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Olivia Chaney – Shelter Review

Top tier folk ballads from the heart

Olivia Chaney’s second album, Shelter, released last year showed off what a folk ballad album should be about. Each of its ten tracks are delicate, heartfelt and full of Olivia’s unique charm.

Opening with the title track, soft acoustic guitar and bass guitar pitter-patter away leaving the melody and Olivia Chaney’s strong and fluid voice to power through. Her ability to rise and fall through the octaves and keep that power or shift to a softer tone is key to how she rinses out the emotion of every single note. Her music always initially sounds quite simple but Olivia always chooses really traditional chord structures. You start to notice it from ‘Dragonfly’ onwards. There’s a lot of back and forth and then a half octave shift for just a few notes and then its back to the main melody.

Olivia Chaney
Olivia Chaney

More so with this album than her debut, Chaney stays very close to the folk ballad roots. ‘Arches’ is utterly sublime with its soft hushed guitar, piano and reeds. ‘IOU’ is one of the few upbeat tracks with some guts but this comes from a rhythmic step in the electric guitar and layered backing vocals rather than any percussion. In fact only the beautifully warm ‘Roman Holiday’ has any vague hint of percussion in it at all. This is all about the melody and has to craft the wax and wane of the song to give the impression of percussive tempo.

That works to the albums advantage so that Olivia can serenade you with traditional feeling folk songs until the night as a means of peace rather than party. From the lamenting ‘O Solitude’ with its minimal acoustic guitar approach, to the warm piano ballads of ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’, the super cute start and stop of ‘Long Time Gone’ and album closer ‘House on the Hill’, its all about the feeling.

Gently lulling you into the snuggly warm feeling with her sensitivity, Olivia Chaney’s second album ‘Shelter’ is like a tonic of medicine to the long day. Deceptively complex with its tiny nuances, it’s an album that will grow and grow on you over time and become a favourite.

Recommended track: Arches

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Olivia Chaney - Shelter

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