On Her Debut Album, Olivia Dean Is Already Pushing Ahead

Olivia Dean could easily have stayed in line for her debut album, Messy. She has been on a smooth path to her career. Smooth English pop soul. She’s a creamy-toned, jazz-flavoured singer and heart-wrenching but resilient lyricist grounded in classic verse, chorus, and bridge songwriting.

Dean, 24, has been releasing songs since 2018, and has been doing so long enough that his first album feels like a turning point rather than a prologue. It reassures her that she has been doing the right thing. It also claims new possibilities.

Born in London to a Guyanese-Jamaican mother and an English father, she absorbed music from her father’s album collection. (Her middle name is Lauryn, after Lauryn Hill.) She sang in a gospel choir and also took musical drama classes. And just like Amy Winehouse, Adele, Leona Lewis, Ray, Jessie J, and Imogen Heap, Dean is young enough talent to attend the star-studded Brit Performing Arts School. showed that.

Like the other newcomers, Dean also made headlines with his vocals incorporating electronic acts into his performances. “Adrenaline” and Rudimentals In 2019 she already build her own song with collaborators. To date, with her series of EPs her releases and her 2 million her Spotify followers, Dean has amassed an ample following. Elton John — You have been selected to perform at the 2023 Glastonbury Festival.

“Messy” reveals Dean’s pop-soul expertise. She gives vintage Memphis soul a sophisticated electronic sheen. “The hardest part,” Her 2020 release has been streamed tens of millions of times and reappeared on “Messy.” (She also released a remix of her own trading verse. with Leon BridgesThe song is about coming to terms with regret and relief that she has gone beyond the romance of her youth. “I’m growing into someone you don’t know these days,” she sings. “You had the chance to love her, but apparently not.”

The album also showcases soul craftsmanship. “drive,” A gorgeous stringed ballad about losing in love. The push-and-pull melody shows the influence of Winehouse, one of Dean’s obvious models for him. But Dean’s songs often address positivity and self-care, rather than Winehouse’s dark humor.

Another retro soul song, the Motown-flavoured cowbell ringing “Ladies Room,” is clearly post-Motown about women’s right to independent time alone, even if they’re part of a couple. presents the idea of “I love being in your space/But sometimes I need space,” she explains.

Dean hasn’t abandoned pop-soul, but “Messy” is determined to experiment with other possibilities. Allowing for some imperfections and claiming “I’m on your side,” the title track approaches psych-folk with lo-fi guitars and piano, ghostly sounds and voices. “No Man” is a moody, time-warped ballad layered with electronic percussion and mournful strings, lamenting an emotionally distant partner.she begins the album with “UFO” Folk strumming and vocoded vocal harmonies merge, with Dean playing the alien. “I need a place to land / I’d rather fall into the hands of the earth”.

Throughout the album, the songwriting remains old-school, with simple melodies and lyrics, clear structures, no jump-cut transitions, not even guest rappers. And while Dean’s songs focus on issues of her heart that are relatable, she ends the album with a clear declaration of her own identity.

“Carmen” This is a tribute to Dean’s grandmother who came to England from Guyana on a wave of Caribbean immigrants, now called immigrants. Occurrence of wind rush. A cheerful march with steel drums and carnival horns. “How to build a home you never know/In someone else’s homeland,” sings Dean. “You transplanted the family tree/And part of it grew on me.” This song is as polished as the rest of the album. But I’d be more than happy to do something a little more personal.

Olivia Dean

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