"Ready" by Ollie BondReview
I suppose that by now I should be used to how Ollie Bond is managing to create, record & release so many high quality tracks despite the current situation & the demands it has placed upon him. Since September we have had "Emilia" and not one but two versions of "I'm Not Coming Back" (band and stripped back). No he definitely is back once again & it's with his new single, released a few hours ago, "Ready", which can be heard at https://open.spotify.com/track/61gVzXQxxLd0m0RGnb5HqD
Ollie is primarily a solo artist live (albeit when live performance is a real phenomenon) and so his material tends to be played with just his acoustic guitar & voice (and which no doubt shaped his decision to release an acoustic version of his last single) which is fine: all his pieces are beautifully crafted and stand up in multiple alternative arrangements: they do not require any production subterfuge to mask inadequacies of composition nor performance.
Nevertheless, Ollie seems to be spending 2020 exploring new arrangement possibilities for his music: at one extreme this gives us the very full and powerful version of "I'm Not Coming Back" which was pretty much a complete band, and at the other we get a more discrete set of options wherein interesting new sounds are woven in to create interesting textures & tensions. "Ready" is a fine example of the latter. A gentle & intimate song directed at a lover, the essence of it is as usual the voice & what it is saying (Ollie's lyrics always come across as very genuine & personal), but the impact of what he is singing is certainly amplified by the detail your ears hear, almost subconsciously at times, going on behind him. With such an approach, identifying them can be tricky, so subtle is their deployment, but I feel reasonably confident that I spotted several distinct guitar parts, including slide (a hallmark of Ollie's recent tracks has been layered guitars) and a banjo.
As I have mentioned in previous reviews, Ollie is very good too at using the tools of instruments, their use or non-use & variations in volume to offer changes in the dynamics of the song to offer us emotional & aural refreshment throughout its length.
His tracks are frequently love songs & this is no exception. I have no idea whether there is some sort of arc to his 2020 writing, but I do detect an increasing intensity to what he is expressing in each successive one & the rather sultry "Ready" tops its predecessors in this respect. It all makes one wonder what he'll offer us next.