Philly-based musician Jeremy Quentin is one of those guy-that’s-a-band/band-that’s-just-one-guy types. He performs under the name Small Houses. The album art for Small Houses’ 2013 release Exactly Where You Wanted to Be shows Quentin standing alone, suitcase in his hand, staring into the middle distance, mustachioed like your dad in 1978. He could be laid-over at a Greyhound station — on his way to somewhere he’s dreading.
Much of the record sounds that way: lonely, lo-fi, heartbroken and introspective indie folk.
“I call it alternative country,” Quentin tells EW. That sound is summed up perfectly with track “I Saw Santa Fe,” a literate, mournful and beautiful piano ballad that would fit nicely on Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. “It’s kind of a get-even song,” Quentin says, adding it was written in Michigan at a time of personal heartbreak for the musician.
Small Houses’ upcoming 2015 release Still Talk; Second City carries on in much the same vein, this time perhaps with more maturity and teeth. Track “Staggers and Rise” fleshes out the lo-fi sound, taking Quentin’s alt country from the bedroom to the barroom. “Seventeen in Roselore” pairs rough, acoustic guitars with Quentin’s gravelly tenor and Samantha Crain’s ghostly soprano.
“I’ll do anything once,” Quentin sings, serenading Crain, “Push your hair back with my thumb/ I’ll do anything, love/ Heard your name came from a song.”
So if Small Houses finds fame and fortune, will he retain the Small House moniker while living in a mansion? “I think I’d buy myself a small house,” Quentin says, laughing, “and all my friends a big fucking house.”
Small Houses plays with The Harmed Brothers 9:30 pm Friday, Jan. 23, at Sam Bond’s; $7. 21-plus.