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Oliver Earnest - The Water Goes the Other Way

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 1 / 3 / 2022

Oliver Earnest - The Water Goes the Other Way
Label: Glitterhouse Records
Format: CD


Debut solo album from former member of post-punk band Kaufmann Frust, now recording under the name Oliver Earnest, combines a contemporary wall of sound with thoughtful lyrics

The debut album from Oliver Earnest who is based in Stuttgart, Germany but who spent three years in Colorado, has been compared to the music of so many other bands it’s both confusing and unnecessary. Although at times accompanied by back-up female vocals. the core of these songs (all lyrics by Earnest, real name Oliver Hauber, music Earnest collaborated on with Florian Stepper who also co-produced and arranged the album with Earnest) feature Earnest on guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals, Stepper providing guitar, bass, synth, strings and keyboards and Kevin Kuhn on drums. And what a dense wall of sound they make together. Make no mistake, Earnest and company know their way around a melody and, although at times there is almost too much to take in on some tracks, especially before they become familiar and lodge in the listener’s head, which they eventually will, they never lose sight of a decent tune which is what makes this set of ten songs so fascinating. Earnest’s dark vocals add an edge to the sometimes dark lyrics and are well-served by the inclusion of those female vocals; ‘The Usual Amount’ is a highlight on the album, and Victoria Hillestad’s vocals add lightness to Earnest’s deep vocals, “Filling your ears with sound, more than the usual amount” they sing but when it’s such a glorious sound there will be few complaints. While it’s true that there are many contemporary bands and artists that can be heard at times throughout ‘The Water Goes The Other Way. it’s doing a misjustice to just how original the songs and arrangements of Oliver Earnest are, which is why we will try to avoid any comparisons here. In a nutshell, Oliver Earnest will be classified as being part of the indie-rock crowd and that’s no bad description although far from all- encompassing. Mixing guitar and synths is nothing new but getting the balance right is the thing, and it’s elements like Hillestad’s vocals and the ambient sounds that Stepper adds to tracks such as ‘Full House’ that make them so interesting and give the songs that edge that sets Earnest apart from many of his contemporaries. To prove that he has the songs, the tunes and lyrics that stand up alone without any embellishments, Earnest throws in ‘Just To Tempt Me’ towards the end of the album. Though-provoking lyrics, a gently plucked acoustic guitar and that powerful, emotive voice show that when everything is stripped bare Earnest can still hold the listener's attention and doesn’t need that wall of sound, however fascinating it may be, to dress all his songs. The closing song is another highlight; Earnest’s baritone is offset brilliantly with more background vocals from Hillestad, and the effect is almost spine-chilling. The dense sound and use of organ is particularly suited to the darkness in Earnest’s lyrics. It’s a fitting close to an album that displays more of its treasures with each listen and which eventually becomes a favourite. Beautifully presented in a sleeve painted by Julie Kechter and complete with lyric booklet, this is a promising debut from Oliver Earnest and bodes well for future releases. We look forward to hearing more from this obviously talented musician.

Track Listing:-
1 Gathering Speed
2 Cancel Therapy
3 Marble Stars
4 On The Outside
5 Life Expectancy
6 Crosswords
7 The Usual Amount
8 Fullhouse
9 Just To Tempt Me
10 Your Grand Plan

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