REVIEW: Simon Olliver – All the Usual Caveat

All the Usual Caveats is an album that frequently deals in absolutes, love is forever, heartbreak will never end, people leave to never return and die and there are so safe places.

The first 3 tracks of the album set the tone, surrealist Americana ballads of nostalgia, longing, and most important lost love. Simon Olliver sings of the mythic earth lover, the painted gypsy. For all of his sweet talking, and mourning, he has a human awareness of his own absurdity. He sits in a peculiar place between self-pity and self-awareness, frequently reminding himself that “something worse will come along/to take your mind off of all this hurt.”

The album manages to maintain a dynamic even when the only instrument that makes an appearance is the acoustic guitar. Songs range from dainty finger-pickings to sloppy grunge style power chords, his vocals go from the hushed whispers of Elliot Smith to the high falsetto’s of Tiny Tim. There’s occasionally double tracking, a solo appears on a couple of songs, reverb is lightly placed to fill in the empty spaces.

The album journey chronicles one of redemption, beginning in the middle of its own story, it gives us a snapshot of the situation – a man broken down, defeated, completely given up, before taking us back to the beginning, where love is pure and full of spring. Peeks of melancholy form inside of these love ballads and give us hints that something is amiss.

He makes it abundantly clear that the love lost is one of a lifetime, in the context of the first song, the lovelier songs such as “The Best Bad News” give a bittersweet feeling. There’s a dramatic irony in use knowing what he doesn’t in these songs. He’s ready to jump into action, and unfortunately doesn’t understand what that means.

The gradual deterioration of romantic thought, the twinges of sorrow and bitterness, when he no longer longs for “Ohio”, Simon Olliver becomes a self-loathing and scornful shell, singing of betrayal and hurt, before emerging on the other end of the spectrum. He becomes changed, he cares less. His absolute resolution is that he will no longer write love songs, and from the sounds of it, he means it.

“more and more/you mean less and less/soon you’ll mean nothing”

Damn.

9/10

Listen here: https://simonolliver.bandcamp.com/releases

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