Oliver Cole

 

CD of the Week: We Albatri EMI Ireland * * * * *  Here’s an interesting proposition for the listener and a challenge for the songwriter: how do you make a worthwhile solo life for yourself following some semi-successful years in a much-loved band?

Most artists make the mistake of “reinventing” themselves to the point that they are unrecognisable, their need to be different totally at odds with who and what they really are.

Which brings us to Oliver Cole. Cole used to be in Turn, an Irish rock band of no small note but one that failed to ring even medium-sized bells with this critic. Following what appears to have been a fallow, frustrating period in both his creative and personal life, Cole relocated to Frieburg, Germany, with a fresh approach to songwriting and new topics to write about.

The result of his labours, the abstractly titled We Albatri, is not so much a return to form (and, thankfully, nothing so futile as a reinvention) but the introduction to a virtually new songwriter. In short, We Albatriis stunning.

Let’s tease it out a little bit. The album’s opener, What Will You Do?, initially blends Cheap Trickwith The Beatles, but gradually comes across as a whirling, swirling piece of original power pop. Oh My Girl, Spotlightand Close Your Eyeschannel the soul and spirit of Elliot Smith; the latter song, in particular, hits all the right mellow and mournful notes (and benefits from a suave string arrangement by Ken Rice).

Other tracks, such as Little Bad Dream, Drug Song, Spotlightand Moth’s Wing, are indicative of a songwriter, perhaps typically and inevitably, drawing from a well of emotional and lifestyle screw-ups. As Cole sings in Drug Song: “There’s not a way that I can say to you what I have been through . . . I don’t want anyone to see me like I am right now, I’m not so proud . . . I lost myself in the pull and push.”

Cole’s memorably tuneful melodies (best exemplifed by the graceful closing track, Moth’s Wing) are a perfect counterbalance to the occasional self-contempt, self-doubt and sheer oppressiveness of life’s liabilities. But Cole comes across as someone who can look them in the face and walk away the winner. And in a sense, this is what We Albatriis: absolutely victorious. See olivercole.ie

Download tracks: What Will You Do, Close Your Eyes, Moth’s Wing