On their second EP, Raleigh’s Old Quarter aren’t shy about their influencesin fact, frontman John Massengill professes them from the start. Opening track “Gone” begins with the line “Wake up at 3 a.m. to old Johnny’s ‘Ring of Fire’.” It’s a backward glance not only to the Cash hit but also to Old Quarter’s first release, wherein the speaker “wake[s] up with Waylon/after late nights with Haggard and Gram.”
With their country-rock bona fides in place, and the stalwart shuffling laments about lost loves and bad decisions in tow, Old Quarter often threaten to make that old dusty road look like a major thoroughfare. But on Gone, Not Forgotten, they push forward with five crisply produced songs that boast a much fuller sound than the comparatively spare numbers of their debut, Live Oak. The tangles of stringsguitars, mandolin, lap steelreveal new psychedelic layers lurking beneath the country bedrock. The 49-second instrumental “Cowboy in India,” for instance, adopts a bit of raga influence, while “Starlight” swells in the middle with a dramatic vamp of lap-steel smears and screaming electric guitar.
Old Quarter never lose their country-rock core, something that Massengill’s steady, weathered tenor helps ensure. But this sophomore outing finds the band pushing against their own foundation, sprouting more than deep roots.