|Offa Rex — The Queen Of Hearts (July 14, 2017)|
Offa Rex — The Queen Of Hearts (July 14, 2017) ★↔★ Gifted British singer and songwriter who fuses the sound of traditional folk with the expression of contemporary tunesmiths. Chaney takes gripping prominence on the album — her voice is an arresting, attention~demanding trill — but she doesn’t sing lead throughout. On “Blackleg Miner,” Meloy sings lead, breathing a tremulous righteousness into the song’s tale of the plight of striking coalminers in 19th~century England. Steeleye Span returned the song to prominence in 1970, and Offa Rex does justice to a classic ballad of injustice. And on “Constant Billy Eddington/I’ll Go Enlist Sherborne,” vocals are done away with entirely, leaving the ebullient jig to dance along on its own.
★↔★ The Decemberists have long shown a fascination with the tragedy of folklore, and it was probably inevitable that they’d wind up making a traditional folk~rock album at some point in their careers. But by teaming with Chaney, they’ve surpassed delivering a mere homage. Instead, The Queen Of Hearts hums with the resonance of bygone eras and ancient ways, of doomed love and arduous hardship — all of it embroidered into the patchwork tapestry of life itself.
★↔★ Produced and recorded by Tucker Martine (Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket, Neko Case) and Colin Meloy, the album draws largely on traditional English~Irish~Scottish repertoire to create a transatlantic musical conversation that flirts with psychedelia and folk rock while maintaining its own inimitable identity.Olivia born: 1982 in Florence, Italy
Formed: 2017 in Portland, OR
Location: Portland, OR
Genre: Indie Roots, Singer~Songwriter
Album release: July 14, 2017
Record Label: Nonesuch
01. The Queen of Hearts 3:56
02. Blackleg Miner 2:23
03. The Gardener 4:59
04. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face 3:31
05. Flash Company 4:15
06. Old Churchyard 4:04
07. Constant Billy (Oddington) / I’ll Go Enlist (Sherborne) 1:56
08. Willie o’ Winsbury 7:29
09. Bonny May 6:31
10. Sheepcrook and Black Dog 4:35
11. To Make You Stay 4:59
√ Chris Funk Banjo, Bouzouki, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Mandolin
√ Colin Meloy Bouzouki, Composer, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Harmonica, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
√ Jenny Conlee Accordion, Keyboards, Organ (Hammond), Piano, Vibraphone
√ John Moen Drums, Percussion, Vocals (Background)
√ Nate Query Bass (Electric), Bass (Upright)
√ Olivia Chaney Vocals, Guitar, Arranger, Composer, Dobro, Guitar (Baritone), Guitar (Electroacoustic), Harmonica (Glass), Harmonium, Organ, Piano, Producer, String Arrangements, Synthesizer, Vocals, Wurlitzer
★↔★ We rehearsed and arranged the songs out on my farm outside of Portland last summer; we recorded it with Tucker Martine at Flora Recording & Playback that fall. I sing two songs, Olivia sings eight of ’em. One of the songs is an instrumental medley of two old Morris dance tunes, arranged by Jenny on accordion. © ★↔★ Performer Olivia Chaney. Photo credit: Bethany Clarke. ★↔★ 21.5. 11/ Bethany Clarke - Fissure ... Art project ... taking place in the the Yorkshire Dales.
Jude Rogers, Thursday 13 July 2017 19.00 BST / Score: ****
★↔★ Offa Rex: Queen of Hearts review — folk~rock that’s full of heart, soul and sunlight.
s band~building chat~up lines go, “We’ll be your Albion Dance Band” is certainly niche. Still, it worked when US indie~rockers the Decemberists approached Olivia Chaney to form Offa Rex. They were long~term lovers of folk~rock; Chaney was a well~known collaborator but relative newcomer (her 2015 debut album, The Longest River, nevertheless gained her support slots with Robert Plant and Shirley Collins).
★↔★ She has a magical voice, full of heft, soul and sunlight, reminiscent of Sandy Denny and Maddy Prior, while feeling refreshingly heartfelt and true. Add Colin Meloy’s brilliant band, and this collection of traditional songs sounds stirringly new. Take the well~known Willie O’Winsbury, or The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face: guitars, harmonium drones and Chaney’s control lift them to different places. Surprises lurk too. Lal Waterson’s To Make You Stay becomes an iridescent, piano~drizzled duet, while Sheepcrook (the Steeleye Span staple) gains brilliantly filthy, Black Sabbath rock edges. Everything works, though, loudly and proudly. ★↔★ https://www.theguardian.com/
★↔★ The origins of Offa Rex can be traced to a tweet. Meloy, a fan of Olivia Chaney’s 2015 Nonesuch debut, The Longest River, struck up a dialog with her over Twitter, which eventually led to her supporting The Decemberists on a U.S. tour. Chaney says: “Every so often [on the tour] Colin and I would have these fleeting but quite intense conversations about songwriting and singing traditional songs. One night he asked me, grinning, ‘Have you ever thought of having a backing group? We’ll be your Albion Dance Band.’”
★↔★ Meloy adds: “There’s this weird relationship between British and American music, this interesting trade and theft that goes back and forth. My hope was that if we — the neophytes, the dilettantes, the pretenders—brought Olivia to Portland to work with Tucker, perhaps these traditional British songs would be infused with something different.
★↔★ From the heady harpsichord swirl that engulfs album opener “The Queen of Hearts” to the warm, delicate drone of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” or the cold, grey riff that heralds “Sheepcrook and Black Dog,” it’s evident that Offa Rex is different indeed, upending its folk roots and imbuing these songs with exploratory verve.
★↔★ Offa Rex will tour this summer, including performances at the Newport Folk Festival, Town Hall in New York, and at The Aladdin in Portland. They will also be performing at Travelers’ Rest, The Decemberists’ two~day curated festival in Missoula, MT, on August 12. Additionally, Olivia Chaney will support The Decemberists during their August tour, during which she will join the band on stage to perform songs from The Queen of Hearts.
★↔★ “It’s a match made in folk~rock heaven,” exclaims NPR Music. “The result is both a tribute and translation, connecting the dots between contemporary indie music and a deeper cultural legacy ... The Queen Of Hearts hums with the resonance of bygone eras and ancient ways, of doomed love and arduous hardship — all of it embroidered into the patchwork tapestry of life itself.”
★↔★ The Independent names The Queen of Hearts its Album of the Week and gives it a perfect five stars, calling it “a sublime collection of old songs given contemporary heart transplants without ever betraying their essential original truth and spirit.”
★↔★ The Guardian gives the album four stars, saying: “Chaney has a magical voice, full of heft, soul and sunlight, reminiscent of Sandy Denny and Maddy Prior, while feeling refreshingly heartfelt and true. Add Colin Meloy’s brilliant band, and this collection of traditional songs sounds stirringly new. Everything works, loudly and proudly.”
★↔★ The Observer gives the album four stars as well, saying that “Offa Rex has its own compelling identity, and should win Chaney an international name.”
★↔★ The Australian gives it four~and~a~half stars, calling it an “adventurous alliance that makes use of [Chaney’s] ear for inventive phrasing and sates her penchant for experimentation without impinging on the pristine quality of her crystalline singing.”
★↔★ fRoots magazine says that Chaney “has never sounded better and sounds completely at ease with a rock band behind her … Beautifully recorded, there’s something inspirational and electrifying when the band kicks off in earnest.”
★↔★ Lenny calls it “a love letter to British folk music ... An excellent introduction to the genre, with ... songs that capture the spirit of the originals while putting their own modern spin on them.”
|Offa Rex — The Queen Of Hearts (July 14, 2017)|