Sarah McLachlan and Kylie Minogue’s Danish bebe!
After many albums creating quirky pop, Danish singer-songwriter Oh Land returned at the end of 2019 with an entirely new sound. ‘Family Tree’ swaps the synths of lush ballads of pianos, strings and harps. It’s quite unlike anything ‘Oh Land’ has done before.
Many musicians who err on the poppier side of things have their ‘adult’ album after 4 or 5 albums in. This is adult ‘Oh Land’ but it retains much of her poppier quirks. After the gospel lite title track opens things like a Sarah McLachlan album, we are treated to the cinematic and sweeping ‘Human Mistakes’. The synth orchestra backs up Oh Land’s layered vocals which are a signature throughout the album. It isn’t often there is a beat on the album and along with the excellent ‘Brief Moment’ and the gloriously optimistic closing track ‘After The Storm’ – these hold all the brightest and happiest moments of the album.
The rest (majority) of the album is ballad heavy. That may sound like a drag but Oh Land mixes the piano, gospel vocal styles, synth orchestras and emotions around a lot between tracks. It never feels stale and adds plenty to her catalogue of excellent tracks.
There are a few particular standouts for me. The dramatic ‘Make My Trouble Beautiful’ which revels in its volume transitions – leaving a harp and echoed voices to carry to the air after dense verses. ‘Coma’ evokes Bjork’s ‘Cover Me’. The effortlessly flowing beauty of ‘Speak to Me with Love’ is full of joy without the cringe. ‘Someone I Can Be Alone With’ veers towards an Agnes Obel vibe at times whereas ‘Sunlight’ is a radio hit in waiting for BB6. The secret weapon throughout is how Oh Land has layered her voice. She is sensitive and powerful at the same time as her main vocal but the backing layers are often soft and plentiful. It is slightly gospel, slightly Imogen Heap, slightly new age. It is all awesome though.
Was ‘Family Tree’ what I was expecting or looking for in an Oh Land album? Absolutely not! It is however a fantastic example of when a ‘pop star’ goes for the ‘adult pop’ vibe and hits it square in the face with a kiss. Understated and brilliant.
Recommended track: Make My Trouble Beautiful
Support Higher Plain Music
Higher Plain Music is part of the Higher Plain Network. If you like what I do, please consider supporting me via Patreon for as little as $1/£1 a month. There are additional perks for supporting me there such as behind the scenes content and downloads. You can also share the website or use the affiliate buy now links on reviews. If they are from Amazon, I get a couple of pence per sale. All your support will enable me to produce better content, more often. Thank you.