Fear of Flying – Oli Norman (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

61t4rtdyil-_ss500In this generations rush for their own slice of the celebrity pie it does seem as if everyone is a singer-songwriter these days, at least for a while. Think of it as a sort of millennial national service as gap year wannabes undertake basic training at the Ed Sheeran School of Musical Manoeuvres. And whilst having more people involved in creativity and music is obviously a good thing, the side effects are obvious. It becomes hard to go into a venue without tripping over a heavy handed, clinical troubadour with nothing new to offer. So thank god for people like Oli Norman.

For whilst he certainly has plenty to say lyrically, it is the music, or rather the near lack of it which jumps out so boldly for me. Once you accept the limitations of one guitar and one voice, you start to see its strengths too and instead of trying to fill every space with strummed chords or dexterous yet pointless solos, you can see your natural allies. As is obvious from even the first bar of opening salvo Still Your Home it is the spaces between, the atmospheres and anticipation, the pauses between the notes, the gaps between the words, unrushed and restrained that add so much to the overall tone of the five tracks offered here.

Understanding that building musical structures to surround the intangible atmospherics of the world can sometimes be all you need is something Oli does so well, often it is enough to provide the musical outline and let nature do the colouring in. Why try to create ambience when all you have to do is capture it?

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