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Album Review: Olly Knights – If Not Now, When

4 min read

If Not Now, When is the candid question sketched alongside a picture of an astronaut on the cover of the stunning new solo record by Olly Knights. It is a question that I am sure the singer-songwriter has pondered for a while now. Though the name may not ring any bells with some (yet), fans of Belham duo Turin Brakes have been holding out for this release for some time. With such an exquisite back catalogue of hits that he shares with band mate Gale Paridjanian, the band’s front man takes his first step away from the outfit and dives into solo territory with the release of his debut album which will be released on Monday 22nd October.

OllyKnightsIfNotNowAs Turin Brakes Olly and Gale have become known for penning a string of engaging indie-pop records that have helped define a generation of music lovers. Tracks like Sea Change, Painkiller and Fishing for a Dream as well as unreleased gems such as Bye-pod and Feeling Oblivion have kept us captivated for over 10 years. Turin Brakes firmly stood their ground, unwilling to succumb to the treadmill of commercialized pop fodder. Instead, the duo concentrated on perfecting delicate, guitar driven classics that were never forced or faked.  Those songs were written, recorded and performed with heart and soul and helped carve a unique catalogue for the pair. The band broke out a decade ago with their debut The Optimist LP and have so far enjoyed a successful 5 album and numerous EP journey. It wasn’t just the albums that won over hoards of fans either. Anyone who has seen the band perform has been treated to a type of raw musicianship that is just so rare these days and every gig is a treat for fans and Turin Brakes newcomers alike.

With such a prolific standing in the singer-songwriter community there wasn’t much doubt over whether the front man’s first solo outing would live up to the high expectations that Turin Brakes had set over the years. Penning so many hits over the last decade must teach you a thing or two and when you find your place and your sound then the best thing to do it hold on to it and use it to your advantage. That is exactly what Olly has done with If Not Now, When. Over the course of 11 tracks we are spoiled with pennings showcasing both the musician’s impeccable vocals as they shine on each of the tracks featured on the record as well as his poetic and thought provoking songwriting skills.

A gentle piano opens the doors to If Not Now, When on RIP Chord and it isn’t long before Knights’ distinctive vocals find their place within the number. It is a casual introductory to the record with a contrasting chorus that at first doesn’t seem like it is going to fit amongst the tracks verses but does so with splendor and ease. The number is also given a brief continuation in the opening half of the record with an instrumental reprise.

Olly takes a folk-infused approach to the following title track which instantly showcases the musicians intelligent and poetic storytelling skills with absorbing witticisms like “how can you smile when you’re so busy dying” flowing over a patchwork of quick paced guitar work.

The Introvert is a sweet guitar picked inclusion with some complimenting closing vocal “oohs” while Girls brings the musicians songwriting talents to the forefront once again in a defiant and melancholic tale full of rich vibrato filled vocals.

Further into the record I Hope I Know You Well provides If Not Know, When with a syrupy and sentimental filling and the musical peak to the record. Instrumentally lively, the guitar work provides the tracks sturdy backbone while a cool synth sits modestly in the distance with Knights giving a fatherly nod to his daughters, Ruby and Daisy, within the lyrics of the track.

Where solo ventures tend to bring out a different sound to most artists it is nice to hear that Knights has retained many of the components that made Turin Brakes so successful.  Knights’ material has always seemed quite grown up within Turin Brakes yet this solo effort has an even more matured quality to it than his bands offerings, perhaps due to the record being a more personal representation of the solo star.

If Not Now, When is a laid back and mostly acoustic affair for Knights with the occasional nod at up-tempo though he appears to shy away from revving the momentum up on the album which is a shame but regardless, what we have been offered from Olly Knights is a record he can be truly proud of as part of this musicians solo journey.

Buy ‘Olly Knights – If Not Now, When’ from Amazon