When reviewing new music I try to avoid comparisons where possible. Partly as it feels lazy, and partly because it can sometimes feel disrespectful to an artist’s hard work by condensing it down into something so simple. Sometimes it’s unavoidable however, it’s the great big musical elephant in the room. So when I say that London based artist Ollie Trevers is the most compelling candidate for a spiritual successor to Jeff Buckley that I have perhaps ever heard, understand it is a high honour for me to bestow. Grace is one of the finest albums ever made, and I hear so much of what made me fall in love with it in Ollie’s work.
His vocals have such astonishing versatility, turning on a sixpence from the soft caress of gossamer upon your skin to the howling wind in a summer storm. Like the superb light and shade in ‘Can’t Make It Up’ between the gentle verses and fierce chorus. Imperfections are often far more enrapturing that the pursuit of perfection, and the passionate voice break in the final chorus as he gives his all to the song is such a brilliant moment. I love the scope of his ambitions and the range of influences that he draws from. Tracks like ‘Stage Of Fools’ and ‘I Need Someone’ bear the mark of everything from folk, soul and blues, to prog and alt rock. I admire his ability to draw light from where there seemingly is none on ‘Lost Alone’, how the dark lyricism about pain, heartbreak and isolation can give rise to the most uplifting melodies on the record and have them feel perfectly at home. If he keeps all this up then maybe one day he’ll be the kind of artist that others hope one day to be compared to.
Fans of Haunt The Woods, Nothing But Thieves and, funnily enough, Jeff Buckley, should check out Ollie’s new EP Cordelia
One of the marks of a great artist is versatility. That needn’t mean being well versed in vastly different styles, it can also mean being able to express certain emotions or conjure up different imagery. The new song from Canadian born singer/songwriter Jenny Kern shows her taking an assured step towards expanding her sound in this way. While tracks from her debut EP were grounded more in folk, with warm and simple arrangements that used empty space to their advantage, new offering ‘Satellite’ takes a turn towards indie pop territory. The dreamy synths, animated electronic beats and overall more eclectic arrangement found here feels like a whole other world. It feels like an oasis of quiet self reflection in the middle of a crazy hectic existence. While her earlier singles were like a still night in a country cottage before a crackling fire, this latest effort feels more like walking through the city searching for answers as the streetlights shimmer on the rain-drenched streets.
The Lumineers are a band that have consistently surprised me. I wrote them off as a Mumford clone and they came back with a brilliant second album. I wondered whether they may have bitten off more than they could chew by releasing a hard hitting concept album, only for it to be one of the stand out releases of 2019. Last time I saw The Lumineers it was in a much smaller venue, but this latest tour in support of III finds them setting their sights on arena crowds. The old me might have questioned this big leap and had doubts about whether they were really arena material. If I’ve learnt anything these past few years however it’s that you should never sell this band short, and this gig only served to prove that point further. Continue reading
You never appreciate what you have until it is gone. When you’re young there’s nothing you long for more than being older. To have new doors open to you, to travel far and wide and see everything there is to see, to have the chance to achieve great things and make the world a better place. When we get there however, the first thing we wish for is to turn back the clock to a simpler time. It’s not that all those things aren’t possible, it’s just that our spirit gets slowly eroded along the way, and optimism falls away in the face of a harsh reality. We stop seeing the world through the same youthful lens of wonder and ambition. While ‘Young Again’, the new single from husband and wife duo The Bergamot, mourns the loss of that youthful mindset as we enter a bleaker world than anticipated, it also serves as a hopeful warning. A message that if a few of us can just cling on to those ideas of youth, the hope, the determination, the love and optimism, then maybe we can build a world that’s less inclined to break us down. Make an adulthood worth growing up for.
If you’re a regular visitor to Belwood then you’ll know that my all time favourite artist is Foy Vance. He’s the artist I’ve seen the most, and the first time I saw him still remains the best gig I’ve ever been to. Several brilliant shows later and I was unsure of what to expect from my latest live experience. Firstly down to it being in the Albert Hall; while it’s one of the most beautiful venues in the country, it was a much less intimate setting than I was used to. Secondly in terms of the setlist; Foy released two albums in 2019, one I loved and one that I really couldn’t connect with, and I was curious to see which record would take precedent. The only way to find out was to take my place front and centre and see what Foy had in store this time around. Continue reading
Many objects have what is called a resonant frequency. When they’re submitted to vibrations, such as sound waves, that match their unique frequency, they are amplified to sometimes destructive levels. It’s how opera singers can shatter wine glasses with just their voices; in a sense they sing in tune with the very essence of the glass so that it tears itself apart. I have a theory however that under the right circumstances, sound can do just the opposite. Sometimes a song like ‘Willow’ comes along and moves through you like it knows you better than you know yourself. It resonates with something deep within you, but rather than shake you apart and splinter your spirit, it pulls together the parts that were once broken and brings comfort and reassurance. The resplendent strings, gorgeous acoustic guitar and Ren’s soothing vocals make ‘Willow’ the kind of song that you don’t merely listen to, but rather you feel each note in every fibre of your being.
With ‘Parachutes’ soulful singer/songwriter Jordan Mackampa further proves himself to be one of the most compassionate and empathetic songwriters to emerge in recent years. His revelatory lyricism shows such a keen understanding for people’s emotions and struggles; his words cutting right to the heart of the issue and opening up your eyes, his reassuring vocals easing you in to self reflection. He’s an artist as attuned to thinking as he is to feeling. That really comes to the fore with his new single, which deals with people who aren’t who they pretend to be, and its video which takes an unflinching look at domestic abuse. Some people mistake love, kindness and patience for weakness and are all too keen to take advantage, but everyone has a breaking point at which they don’t want to be hurt anymore. It takes real courage to stand up and say you no longer want to be stuck giving more love than you receive in return. Jordan’s considerate and understanding approach to songwriting is a real breath of fresh air. He’s the kind of artist that the world needs more of, and I look forward to seeing him continue to go from strength to strength.
Gozer Goodspeed – Running with the Outliers
Folk | Blues
Endings needn’t be something to run from. They’re not some bottomless chasm waiting further down the path, they don’t have to mean that all that came before will crumble into dust and mean nothing. Sometimes we have to face up to the fact that one chapter needs to close before another one can begin, and that change can sometimes be for the best. ‘This Is Where It Ends’ is an ode to letting go. The resplendent new single from Richard Walters finds the bittersweet balance between accepting the end and mourning all that comes with it, but finding solace in closure, in the thought of new opportunity, in saying goodbye with grace and goodwill. The skittering beat dancing like butterflies in your stomach, its quirky video’s take on classic horror like a friendly quip to lighten the mood at a final meeting, his heavenly vocals like a solitary light clinging on as night falls. Ironically enough this is the kind of song you wish would never end…
As 2019 begins winding down, and a new year lies just around the corner, my thoughts are already turning to what new albums I have to look forward to in 2020. After finding myself bewitched by their last record Beings way back in 2015, the news that Lanterns On The Lake have a new record on the way puts them right at the top of my list. If lead single ‘Every Atom’ is anything to go by, the new album will be every bit as stunning as the last. The first cut from Spook The Herd, out 21st February, ‘Every Atom’ is a beautifully bittersweet ode to love and loss. Written about the death of a loved one and the struggle to accept that they are gone forever, it sees the band at their lyrical peak. Its chorus of “If I have to split every atom just to find a trace of you, That’s what I’ll do” is as poignant and hard-hitting as any I’ve heard since starting the blog. To hear such rich and inventive lyricism delivered in Hazel Wilde’s dreamy vocals is just the icing on the cake.