Up until a point, producer Graham Jonson's work as Quickly, Quickly fell under the lo-fi hip-hop distinction: low-key instrumentals marked by relaxed beats and dusty-sounding vocal samples. Even when working primarily in this atmospheric style, Jonson's instrumentals were a little more activated, his beats shifted a bit more frenetically, and there was more motion than the average ambient hip-hop track in even his most minimal work. With The Long and Short of It, Quickly, Quickly expands on the color and excitement that only surfaced to a certain degree on earlier albums, transforming from a producer who made lovely-if-meandering beats to a songwriter with tendencies toward maximalized arrangements and electronic production tinges. Jonson takes an everything-at-once approach right from the beginning, starting the album with "Phases," an explosion of blown-out rhythms, jazz instrumentation, dueling guitar leads, synth excursions, and even some spoken word parts from poet/author/musician Sharriff Simmons. Perhaps the most immediately noticeable change from earlier Quickly, Quickly is the inclusion of prominent lead vocals, sung by Jonson himself. Graceful R&B-tinged harmonies add to the warm fluidity of "Come Visit Me," and "Shee" begins in an almost alternative rock style before Jonson adds subtle electronic haziness and unexpected melodic shifts to the more straightforward electric guitar and drums. Tracks like "I Am Close to the River" and "Feel" find Quickly, Quickly in prime form. Moments like these meld an intimate songwriting style akin to Frank Ocean with production that aspires to the vibrancy of early Four Tet or Caribou. The sounds change track to track throughout The Long and Short of It, and Jonson's lyrical style is often introspective and personal to the point of feeling confessional. The combination of unfiltered emotional expression and uninhibited production gives the album a personality all its own, amplified all the more by how comparatively subdued earlier Quickly, Quickly tracks could be. It's an inspired transformation, and one that feels captivating, engaging, and above all else, welcoming.
The Long and Short of It Review
by Fred Thomas