If the dawn of February and Stom Ciara (raging as I write) makes you think that staying indoors until Spring might be the best thing to do, Novemberism, the debut album from Oliver Spalding, might just be what you need. As with Oliver’s previous EP, Novemberism was written and recorded with Ed Tullett and the result is a beautiful look at melancholy and heartbreak, centred around vocals that shine with emotion. If it sounds depressing, it isn’t – the lyrics are juxtaposed against melodies that bounce between pop explosion and a more soulful, contemplative approach.
The title song refers to Oliver’s explanation that “to be melancholy all year round is to suffer from Novemberism” – so if that’s you, now you have a name for it! Oliver goes on to say
The album focuses on a certain period of time in my life and the things that happened around me. My honesty in song writing is key. The aim of this album was to be raw and emotional. Emotions are scary and no one wants to face them, and that’s what I wanted the album to feel like – something that is uncomfortable but also beautifully revealing.
Oliver has definitely achieved his aim of raw and emotional – each track is filled to the brim with emotion, bringing out the best in his fragile yet strong, haunting voice that crams such intensity of feeling into each note, you can’t help being moved. ‘Novemberism‘ personifies the feeling of melancholy that winds its way through the eleven tracks; swimming upstream when everyone else is going downstream is the phrase that comes to mind.
The best track for me is ‘Golden‘, a piano led song that tells of heartbreak and missed opportunities in a delicate manner; listing it after the explosion of ‘AIBM‘ brings home the sensibility of feeling even more.
Synthesizers feature heavily across the album, contributing to the 80’s feel of baroque, dark pop. This is highlighted most in ‘Bow Creek‘, ‘Athame‘ and the power ballad ‘Everglades‘ – this is a song to belt out at the top of your voice, with the volume on maximum. R&B also makes it mark in Oliver’s song writing, with ‘Her Crescent’ and ‘Emissive‘ having cracking rhythms, whilst still maintaining that dark undercurrent present throughout.
As befits an artist not afraid to show emotions in his music, Oliver’s advice for aspiring musicians is all about the passion:
“As clichéd as it sounds I would say follow the path of your own heart. Too many people play it safe these days and aim to fit in to the current market but we’re ending up with the same sounds/emotional impact on loop. The world is yearning for people to stop trying so hard and create what comes naturally to them. Singing from the heart and soul will ultimately get us out of this Groundhog Day scenario. Start your journey being the person you are not who you aspire to be like.”
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