Articles featuring photography by Dan Bond

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"In The Darkness" by Ollie Bond

Review

Ollie Bond is one of those talented artists who seems capable of swerving the "quality/quantity" debut by releasing very high quality singles at a rate which can be tagged as "prolific. Thus we have the follow up today to December's  "We Still Have Next Year" , namely "In The Darkness": though the gap of just over two months is somewhat longer than the previous one of only three weeks between "Ready" and the former.

If "We Still Have Next Year" was a fairly optimistic look forwards, "In The Darkness" is a much more sombre affair (the title has probably already tipped you off to that). Taken at a more stately pace than any of Ollie's more recent songs, it allows him to stretch out the words in his lyrics as well as use space between them to good effect: which is an effective showcase for aspects of his vocal abilities not necessarily captured fully on record before.

As with all his work, the music is melodically original & the arrangement his trademark apparent simplicity augmented by tasteful additional touches by a range of instruments, leaving focus clearly on the singing & the tune.

The theme, though as I have said sombre, is not however necessarily dark: it is a song of intimate moments & solitude and once again I may be making a leap I'm not really entitled to do in terms of seeing within a personal lyric a much more universal comment on how people generally may be coping (or not) with disconnection from each other, but even if that's not quite what Ollie had in mind in writing "In The Darkness", it seems to work as such & I appreciate the empathy & sympathy accentuated by the lovely melody.

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"Emilia" by Ollie Bond

Review

If, like me, you enjoyed "Safe With Me" by Ollie Bond  on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Three', you'll be as pleased that despite the pressures on him under current circumstances, he has been able to record a new single, out today, called "Emilia"

"Loosely based" on Ollie's own separation from his partner during the lockdown trauma, the song concerns a couple living across the country from one another and focuses on the emotional toll this is taking on them both but is also about being there for each other in such challenging times. As with many of Ollie's songs, there is a clear linear progression in the lyric & it's important to listen right through to the end as it's there that he outlines his overall conclusion that sometimes all we can aim for is holding on, persevering & looking after one another.

Necessarily, to convey the intense emotional messages of the words, the vocals are foregrounded in the arrangement & mix, in characteristic Ollie fashion ranging from the stark vulnerability of his solo voice to enhanced passion through a stunning bank of harmonies: I'm told that in total there are eleven vocal parts. Matching this, and again it's something he is very good at throughout his work, the instrumental parts swell to match the intensity of the singing & there is constant shifting of parts throughout the song adding to the emotional clout & providing varying textures which contribute to holding our attention: as does the typically crystal clear mix by Chris Field.

We are getting songs about lockdown coming through now quite regularly: as people are tending to have equivalent experiences, there is a high degree of shared perspectives as one might expect. Nevertheless, good writers approach the same theme from their own, subjective & honest angles, producing unique & true responses. "Emilia" reeks of this authenticity & commitment, the more so because of its tasteful & restrained passion and focus upon individuals caught up in the circumstances.

As with so many of those artists I'm currently reviewing, I can't wait to see & hear Ollie live again.

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"Safe With Me" by Ollie Bond

Review

Hopefully, I do try to capture the best of Coventry & Warwickshire music (or at least such as I encounter) in my reviews but from time to time artists seem to end up waiting longer than they deserve for my expressions of respect & appreciation.

 

My apologies therefore to singer songwriter Ollie Bond whose work I do hold in esteem, as this is my first real review of him, despite his being held in such regard as to have been a national finalist in OpenMicUK, runner-up in ‘Godiva Calling' and a nominee for Best Acoustic Act in the Cambridge NMG awards and a most well respected regular on our own local open mic circuit for several years.

Today saw the release of "Safe With Me", made with the help of top sound expert Chris Field

The track features a fuller arrangement than those we are used to his solo performances: I particularly liked the tasteful slide guitar licks. Optimistic, tuneful & memorable, the song clips along with a purposeful dynamic which gives it a vibe appropriate to the uplifting sentiments involved: played at a slower ballad tempo while preserving the same words & melody might have ultimately failed to deliver the same emotional message & undermined the purpose of the composition. The production is admirably clear which serves & reflects both the clarity of Ollie's voice & what he is saying with it, without cluttering it up with superfluous instrumentation: after all I imagine this song will be destined to played live solo more than with a band.

As the days grow darker both literally & metaphorically, this song offers an effective counter narrative of community & friendship

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From the back catalogue