I met this kid a few years back at just 17-years-old when he won our collaboration with Fire Ant Studios, the ‘Spit Fire Emerging Music Award’, which saw him take home the prize of a free recording package. After setting him up with his first live gig alongside Iluka at Hibernian House, and giving him a bit of print exposure, we left him to do some wayfinding on his own.
Whenever I’ve had the chance to speak with Oscar since, our conversations have been kept short. I rarely get an insight into where he’s up to on his path to doing the rounds on the summer festival circuit and supporting sideshows (my trajectory, not his). But he doesn’t need to do much talking, about his progression as a musician or his plans to ‘make it big’, because ‘The World Is Round So I’ll Go Round’ does that for him.
The record opens into a Lush milieu of finger-thumping nylon guitar and harmonica, carried by Oscar’s unique baritone vox. However the musicality, despite all its fullness, seems to ride shotgun on this album. It’s not just the stark human insight and rich imagery of his lyrics, a depth that most creative types probably only know at their lowest of lows, but the authenticity and phrasing that really drives it all home.
The opening track “I Dreamt Of My Brother Dying” is, for the few people who may know Oscar’s style, typical of his previous releases. There’s plenty of brooding, dampness and melancholy for old fans and old hearts alike – “For blood is thicker than any water that I’ve seen/But a river of my blood couldn’t save a dying dream/And if you have to leave to somewhere I cannot go/I’ll be waiting by your grave til I join you in the snow.”
The wordsmithing continues on tracks like “On a Train Down By The Sea”, “I Shall Not Change Come Dawn” and “The Hour’s Getting Late”, each opened up by rich alternative chords and guitar strumming that resonates therapeutically. Yet it’s in songs like “Started A War” which might be most welcomed by the ears of new listeners. Rolling drums, thick electric guitar and lashings of harmonica sustain the track allowing Lush’s lyrics to once again take centre stage. The song is undoubtedly radio-ready and road trip worthy – “From shades of blue to black/And I wake on a cold autumn day to turn and find a dagger buried in my back.” There are also impressive swells and builds on tracks “An Uncertain Man” and “A Song For The Lost” – it’s just difficult to give all ten tracks a mention when each stands so strongly on its own.
I’m sure that no amount of quoting can do ‘The World Is Round So I’ll Go Round’ any justice – you’ll just have to listen to it for yourself when it’s released sometime within the next three weeks. It’s music that will suit those who enjoy the crippling sadness of The National, the simplicity of early Dylan, and the rhythm and appeal of acts such as The Lumineers.