Review: Ollie Stewart – Night Bell

The backstory to Ollie Stewart’s debut EP is surprising giving the end result. The press release tells a tale of music conceived in a Dorset garden shed, so on that basis one might expect a back to nature, folky record but instead we get heavy layers of instruments and lots of voice manipulation.

‘I See Love’ begins in suspiciously similar style to Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’, albeit sung by a computer. For ‘Savour Me’ and ‘Tare’ – which build around an epic wash of synths and percussion respectively – there is a heartfelt vulnerability in Stewart’s voice proving that he can sing pretty well without digital assistance but the chorus resorts to type again. Finally, Stewart reveals his true talents on the last song ‘Made At Dark’, where the beats and synths build up a dramatic atmosphere.

Admiration for ‘Night Bell’ will very likely depend on your views on the human voice. There are certainly times when Stewart’s efforts to convey emotion are undermined because of the over-reliance on technology. Then again, the melodic strengths of his songs almost compensate for these failings.

Web Sites:
Ollie Stewart MySpace

Further Listening:
Maps

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