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Oliver Cherer – The Myth of Violet Meek

Interesting items, concept albums, aren’t they? I haven’t actually seen one for absolutely ages – and it’s debatable as to whether this album – Oliver Cherer’s second release – joins this peculiarly unusual club. Answers on a postcard please… The aforementioned Violet Meek is name-checked throughout the album, across tracks such as ‘Violet Says…’, ‘Violet And Her Sisters’ and ‘Poor Violet’. Likewise, there are an equal number of references to bears – ‘Who Killed The Bears?’ (which kicks off the album), ‘Lament For A Girl And Two Bears’ and ‘A Bear With Two Backs’. It turns out that Violet was killed by a bear, but I’ll let you discover more about that as you listen to the album.

Cherer’s voice initially reminds me somewhat of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour (particularly on ‘Violet Says…’), though the comparisons end there. Music-wise, Cherer’s sound strides the desolate paths previously frequented by the likes of Oddfellow’s Casino and The Declining Winter. Part folk, part understated, it’s a heady mix of acoustic guitars, piano, layered violins and strings. There’s an almost-Irish feel to some of the songs (check out lead single ‘Delicate Blooms’) while others are more laid back affairs.

There’s some rather effective acoustic guitar fingerpicking throughout – check out ‘Valentine’ (an album highlight) and the charming ‘Slag’. The female harmony which peppers the album adds a third dimension to several of the tracks. Some tracks are more introspective, such as the sad ‘Unspoken’ and ‘A Bear With Two Backs’ with its solitary violin backing and layers of harmonies. At around four minutes in, however, the track takes on a sudden lease of life when a full musical arrangement suddenly takes hold, seemingly appearing out of nowhere.

‘Slag’ follows next – and it wouldn’t be out of place on an Elbow album. Despite the title, it’s a delicious track – as is ‘Trees’ which follows it. It’s warm, sensitive and feels somewhat like putting on an old jacket. Even the photography on the artwork gives the impression that the album was recorded in a disused church around 60 years ago and the recording has just turned up in a dusty box.

‘Violet And Her Sisters’ closes proceedings – and sounds like it was recorded in a field in Somerset with just a nearby village church for company.

As themed albums go, this is one to which I’ll be returning in the near future.

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