Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

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Album Review: Olivia Chaney – The Longest River

2 min read

How does one breathe new air into such an old genre as folk? With the recent renaissance of folk that has painted the contemporary music scene, English artist Olivia Chaney has revolutionised the genre by going back to basics. Her latest album The Longest River is a delicate and enchanting collection of traditional folk that is pastoral, at times rather medieval and ultimately raw. Chaney cleverly reverberates all that folk should be, doing so without incessant banjo accompaniment but rather with sweet melodic exploration paired with complex lyrics.

olivia chaney the longest riverThe introductory track False Bride illuminates the pastoral quirks of this elusive album. It is an intimate tale of unrequited love and has connotations of a medieval style that makes it magical to listen to. The vocals showcase her silky vibrato as well as the raw emotion of this beautiful piece. Imperfection immediately changes the pastoral feel, as it takes on a more contemporary style. Again, Chaney tells a great tale with intricate lyrics but this time along with a creative piano accompaniment. The piano plays with a dissonant style of ornamentation that builds with her rising vocals.

Swimming In The Longest River showcases the height of Chaney’s crystal voice. There is also incredible depth to the lyrics in this song and I feel that new meanings can be gained with every listen. The acapella breaks in the track are simply spectacular and create variety in mood. There’s Not A Swain returns to the medieval theme but with a darker sound and quicker rhythm in which her vocals once again shine. Cassiopeia is a striking ending track that plays with a cosmic theme and a running piano accompaniment.

Overall, the element that makes The Longest River so intriguing is that in every line of music there is intricacy and this brings the necessary variety that the album needs. The melody and accompaniment each explore their own ideas and because the instrumental roles are very few, this complexity does not become overwhelming for the listener. The immense intricacy in the lyrics adds to the overall brilliance of the album as each song speaks about different things and speaks through different metaphors.

The Longest River is a breathtaking exploration of raw folk and Chaney’s musical brilliance is incredibly evident. For someone who looks for depth and complexity in music, this album would be a definite choice. Many may ignorantly view the tracks on this album as dull and empty, but this album is an eclectic combination of musical artistry. Olivia Chaney has changed the future of folk music by reaching into its simplistic past.