Oliver Cole’s career first began in 1998 as part of the ensemble Turn, with whom he would go on to release three studio albums during the first five years of the century. After parting ways with his fellow musicians in 2006, the Kells born artist soon shifted his focus to working on his debut solo endeavour, We Albatri, which hit Bandcamp in 2010.
Over the course of the past two decades, Cole has managed to make quite a name for himself within the music industry. He’s had his material featured in a whole host of films and TV shows, including One Tree Hill, and has performed before live audiences in many different countries. Now though, he’s preparing to seize the scene with his latest record, Year of the Bird.
The ten track compilation gets going with the striking acoustic riff of “Helium Heart”, which stirs ahead of vivid vocals that are very serious in tone. Its tranquil but dire delivery hits hard, along with its earnest attitude, before it reaches a loud and lively conclusion. “I’ll Be Your Shelter” follows via a light and lazy instrumental opening that has a tough undertone on the way to a slow and enthralling melody. Building gradually, it generates an affecting ambience while the vocals show off an impressively wide range. The result is a transcendent tune that firmly embeds itself in the memory.
The cutting riff of “Golden Leaf” speeds up and becomes more upbeat as it continues behind a harmony that echoes enthusiastically across the air. This is a heartfelt undertaking about which there is something rather warm and reassuring. The foreboding introduction of “Wide Open” arrives next to set an ominous atmosphere which is soon emphasized by vocals that seem distressed. It ends up being a melancholy addition that hangs heavy as it unfolds.
“Robert” takes off with relaxing instrumentation which struts into a resonant verse whose content feels quite contemplative. The subdued rhythm is simultaneously soothing and tense. “Ah Ooh Ooh” features a chilling acoustic riff afterwards, ahead of a penetrating harmony. Its dire demeanour makes a forceful impact, while its high-pitched chorus really grabs your attention. Moving forward at a serene speed, it grows constantly to become a biting ballad.
Gentle guitar work establishes an airy aura as “The Happy Prince” approaches an arresting duet. There’s a nostalgic inflection to the instrumental execution and vocals that’s truly touching. It’s a poignant piece which is quite beautiful in its entirety. “Magnolia” is a lackadaisical effort musically in its wake, with vibrant vocals that ring out passionately and impress through their fervour.
“Year of the Bird” sets itself up as a long and lamenting composition, the background choir effects of which become more ethereal in nature as they progress. It’s succeeded by “Helium Intro”, whose brisk and bracing instrumentation serves as a sobering swansong.
This is a very stripped down assemblage of anthems that manages to convey a great deal of spirit and emotion, despite its back to basics approach. Oliver Cole has put together something that feels rich with import and significance. That, coupled with its accessible and accomplished execution, makes for a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. Make sure you investigate Year of the Bird for yourself when it drops on July 31st.
You can hear his 2013 single “Little Wolf” below.
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