Saturday, 1 August 2015

Album: Oliver Cole - Year of the Bird

Oliver Cole Year Of The Bird

Oliver Cole, 'Ah Ooh Ooh'

Info: Former Turn front-man Oliver Cole just released his second solo album, Year of the Bird, yesterday, originally planning on a self-release in 2013, Cole was subsequently asked by Gary Lightbody to release the album on his Third Bar label. Entirely home-recorded with almost all instrumentation by Cole himself, he was joined in various parts by Glen Hansard, Gemma Hayes and fellow Turn band-mate Gavin Fox who kindly spoke to me here last year. 

Year of the Bird couldn't be further from the indie-rock sounds of the Turn years if Oliver Cole started dropping some dope hip-hop rhymes into the mix, it's very pleasing to be brought inside an entirely different and contrasting arena of his musical talents. From opening track 'Helium Heart' onwards you come into contact with a heartbreakingly happy mix of feelings, the soothing vocals and at times poetic lyrics have all been combined here to create a singular experience by the time you reach the albums conclusion.  

Oliver Ollie Cole

'I'll Be Your Shelter' is haunting and pure, creating a nostalgic and ponderous atmosphere, Cole's vocals and acoustic guitar picking are particularly pleasing and there's a feeling of great intimacy on the ballad. Following track 'Golden Leaf' is the album's only clear nod to one of the song-writers self-admitted influences, Elliott Smith, touching on 'Easy Way Out' from Figure 8. Above track (video) 'Ah Ooh Ooh' is real highlight for me, it's rhythmic emotional sway and ethereal gospel harmonies paint a scene of mystical beauty and the regimental build-up towards the song's energetic finale is very effective, I would hazard that this could be quite hair-raising in a live setting.

My self-induced emotionally distressed state at the time of listening to 'The Happy Prince' heightened the gloriously sad feeling the song presented me with. Oscar Wilde's short story is a brilliantly sombre affair for both children and adults, here Cole has admirably breathed fresh life into the tale of the prince and his swallow companion taking it on to a new and different level. The application of the story through his reworking with lyrics, as well as recreating the dialogue between the two main characters through his duet with Gemma Hayes, is a joy to behold. 

Year of the Bird closes with the Van Morrison-esque 'Magnolia' and another foray into atmospheric landscapes on the 8 minute-plus title track. While there are many current song-writers of a certain mould I admire, such as Justin Vernon, Keaton Henson, John Grant, for example, there really aren't too many that reside in that bracket and style here in Ireland. I don't think I've heard an album from this island since Mic Christopher's posthumous Skylarkin that plucked at the auld heart-strings like this, whilst giving a parallel feeling of happiness as a result of the enjoyment of listening to the music. Feels galore from Mr.Cole here for which I for one am most grateful.

Oliver Cole plays Whelans of Wexford Street this Friday, 7th of August and you can purchase Year of the Bird here

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