[sic] Magazine

Gold Leaves – The Ornament

Though Grant Olsen is undeniably the Gold Leaves figurehead, it’s often his rich behind-the-scenes cast that makes The Ornament come alive. Ringleader of this shadowy crew is co-producer Jason Quever of Papercuts fame. His harmonious fingerprints are to be found all over The Ornament , not least in practical terms having supplied his lingering cello skills on the mildly country-accented “Hanging Window.”. Equally, Ben McConnell , having previously worked with dream-pop perfectionists Beach House , lends his adept percussion to proceedings throughout – and this is without mentioning the album’s diverse chorus of backing vocalists.

All the same, The Ornament firmly remains Olsen’s show, even though recent history shows him to be equally comfortable sharing the stage. For, along with fellow Seattle resident Sonya Wescott , Olsen previously plied his trade as one half of Arthur & Yu , and the pair announced themselves convincingly with In Camera , an album in thrall to 60s folk-pop and druggy acoustics.

Now, as Gold Leaves, Olsen cuts a more singular figure in spite of his team of many. Happily, his addiction to strong melody prevails however, and since 2007 he’s been developing his voice, now finding himself in possession of an arresting croon to rival that of Scott Walker or the more contemporary Richard Hawley . These honeyed pipes are put to beautiful use on the strong opener “The Silver Lining” – a track with otherwise houses lyrics ripped from John Steinbeck and medieval poetry, a move which is perhaps not surprising considering the Gold Leaves stage-name is derived from the works of the naturalistic poet Robert Frost .

Another standout, “Cruel & Kind” witnesses an iconic sounding Olsen delivering like Dean Martin covering classic Leonard Cohen . Against such vibrant tapestries, some lesser moments pass without making a full account of themselves, but The Ornament ‘s swooning highs more than compensate. For example, the title track is pedigree pop of the highest order, its organ and kettledrum in fine support of its mesmeric melody.

The Ornament is far from tawdry knickknack or bauble. Its resonant depth affords it a place of absolute prominence, its wise song-craft and silken vocal a luxurious worth. As it turns out, the increasingly impressive Olsen may be even closer to gold than he realises.

Advised downloads: “Cruel & Kind” and “The Ornament”.

~The Ornament is out now on Hardly Art .~

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