First of two blogs today...I am writing a special blog today due to being thrilled with a musician of such quality that it has to be shared...
Oliver Paine - Fritz Kahn and The Miracles (www.oliverpaine.com)
This is one of the most important double cd sets that I have heard for a long time, why?..for one the quality of the musicianship and the production is second to none, secondly it will put shame to some of the bands and musicians that are currently signed to major labels.
So what do we have, we have a musician who is part Damien Rice, part Rufus Wainwright with Pink Floyd production values. Oliver has one of the most poignant singing voices I have heard in a long time and the album as such is so easy to listen to over and over again.
The concept of the songs is about a little boy who falls down a well and what might have happened...
The album is split into two discs, disc one features 'Playing God' and 'Rest in peace' with 'The Party of our lives' and 'Beautiful country' which are also featured on the second disc. 'Rest in Peace' is beautifully structured and was written for Olivers Father.
The main album opens with a Cabaret inspired 'Welcome', the song humourously portrays the type of bordello sing along that songwriting story tellers love to partake in, the heady smokey bar noise is successfully inspired.
'The Party of our lives' is a great 'festival' song and a perfect summer anthem, sounds of the accordion mix neatly with acoustic guitars and hand clapping galore! I dare you not to join in by the end of the song!
Delightfully we bounce through 'My Perfect Love' to encounter the first ballad of the album called 'My Girl', Oliver sounding like Jamie Cullen on a jazz tinged paeon to a lover. Olivers songwriting skills are at the forefront of this song, being able to portray a love story successfully within the space of 2.5 minutes.
What I like about this album is that it encompasses different genres through each song that you travel with. 'Snarky' is a song that lives in the era of early Simon and Garfunkel, it's lyrically and musically pleasing and flows out of the speakers with emotive poignancy. The build to the crescendo at the end is thrilling with musicians rythmically taking a war like stance. 'The Crystal Palace' perfectly paves the way forward with the vocals taking a disturbing cadence throughout the second part of the song. Beautifully strange.
'Mother' takes a bluesy stance and reverberates the room with lyrics such as "I will suck on your breasts, poison on my lips...", this is a great song with commendable keyboard work and backing vocals.
My personal favourite song is the strangely titled 'Leanan Sidhe' (a fairy name) where Oliver successfully transports you to the realms of Jaques Brel and Scott Walker. Olivers vocals on this track are just top notch and the pretty musical refrain which backs him does not deter from the majestic vocals in the least. A music box winds down to lead to 'Its not the end of the War', an anti-war song calypso style which gets its message across nicely.
'Here comes my Woman' is the track on the album which i found quite hard to deal with emotionally, it's beautiful. Its a personal thing with this track I think, you either get it or you don't...I got it and it affected me. The piano and vocals are sublime, it's very moving.
Continuing our journey through Olivers world we stop and bask in the folk blues aspect of 'Beautiful Country', the song has a beautiful chorus in a creole type style, another album highlight.
Oliver takes an anti nuke stance with 'An Atomic bomb called Danielle', but what I like about Oliver is that he gets his messages across in a lyrically sophisticated style, it's not in your face, the music is once again very emotional with a fantastic string arrangement, the song has a message...listen to it.
At this point of the album you really are wishing that it won't end but unfortunately that has to happen (unless you have the repeat button pressed!)..the album moves on with the Noel Coward stylings of 'Xangri-La', its a fantasy song that works in many different ways, if you like foot stomping this ones for you, it's an ingenious percussive device used in the refrain. Sweet!
And to the last song 'Devotion', it compliments the beginning song of the album..too many drinks, the remorseful feelings follow and the singer sings his sad song and wanders off into the night to reflect on his life.
It's an albums of extremes which works on so many different levels, and with all my years that I spent in the music business it's not very often that music excites me...this is one person who has rekindled the flame...Oliver, thank you.
Review Copyright Neil Piddock 2006.