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May 16, 2008

Oli Brown's "Open Road" Review

First off, I'm going to say that I've seen Oli and his band play twice so far, once as support for Devon Allman's Honeytribe and once as headliners, showcasing this album. Both times I walked away knowing that I'd seen something special. This is a band worth following.

For the guitarists amongst you, here is what you need to know:

The boy has tone.

...and he's not afraid to use it!

And he's so frikkin' young and talented it's enough to make you hang up your guitar, lock yourself in the bathroom and cry for your Mommy. If that's not bad enough, at 18 years old he's got himself a damn fine blues voice.

And he writes his own stuff.

And he has a record deal.

At this point I know you're dying for me to say something like 'he's good, but y'know, all he plays is pentatonics so he's got a long way to go...'

Not so. He plays all over the frikkin' place. Just when you think he's going to do one thing he hits a colour note then tears off in another direction.

And... and...

And I haven't even got round to reviewing the CD!

"Open Road" is definitely a strong debut album. If I had to mark it down for any reason (and I'm totally nit-picking here!) it would be that I think a couple of the tracks could have been arranged more like their live performance. Onstage, the band consistently sizzles but at times the recorded tracks veer more towards a jazzier vibe.

The biggest example is the album cut of "New Groove". Played live it's an edgy, funky, balls to the wall song. On the CD it's a much more laid back. I'd have preferred them to push the tempo and add a bit more snap. In general the drums have been mixed further into the background than I expected, I guess. I get why: so that you can hear every note Oli's plays. I'm sure that I'll get used to the different mix of the recordings and love them after a couple of listens.

Hey I just listened to "New Groove" for the second time and already I'm starting to feel it more. See, I told you I was nit-picking! Y'know I just figured out what the deal is. The album is meant to be played LOUD! Amps to 11, puh-lease!

If you like blues with a twist, buy this album. You will not believe that this sound is created by a bunch of guys who are only just over the UK legal drinking age.


Anonymous said...

I looked on youtube, *stunned* C.D is now on my wish list :0)

Hippy mama

Kenski said...

If you ever get to see them play life then do go along. It's blues, but there's a joyousness and character to the performance that's infectious. The kid's got the chops and loves to stand up and do his thing. It's always great to see a performer who clearly loves doing what he does and who tries to connect to the audience.

Anonymous said...

Oli is not only young, he has a long way to go and is going on a tour to america tomorrow. I love him - literally! I am a regular at his gigs in surrey i wish he could just see that i love him!
he is sooooo fit!

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