Oli Brown & The Dead Collective // Prelude // EP Review
So a good friend introduced me to Oli Brown’s music over a decade ago, at the time he was a young whipper-snapper doing his thing on the six-string trying to make his mark as a Blues player and he did. I remember on first hearing his early recordings I knew this guy was going to be something pretty special, personally that time came with his last studio album as a solo Blues Artist in 2012 “Here I Am” for me where the penny dropped and Oli really came to the fore and a mature singer/songwriter and guitar player. It was leaps and bounds ahead of his earlier work and don’t get me wrong those albums are peppered with some sterling tracks, but 2012 signalled a shift in the sound for Oli that would forever change the course of his musical career.
Apart from 2013’s “Songs From The Road” all was quiet whilst Oli took stock of where to go next and in 2014 RavenEye gave birth to one of the UK’s finest Rock trios in a very long time, a short sharp shock in “Breaking Out” was released to announce their arrival, a killer EP that set a high bar for what was to come. It was around this time that I actually met Oli and the boys for the first time, supporting The Blues Pills on their UK & Irish tour, 2016 saw the release of their one and only full-length to date “Nova” which just exceeded expectations as far as what this band was capable of. The guys toured the globe off the back of this alongside some of the biggest names in the business and Oli and co-bought the t-shirt, wore it and did it all. Much was expected of the follow-up to “Nova’ but alas as many a story in the world of Rock crocheting, Morris-dancing and candle-making meant the album to date is done, recorded and sitting somewhere on a shelf never to be heard by mortal man.
The pandemic further confused issues, putting a strain on an already delicate situation and RavenEye were no more, so what was to become of them? Where would Oli go from here, time off, and time to kill Black Feather Design came out of the ground like Phoenix through the flames and Oli was revitalised creatively. This gave Oli an outlet to work through the pain of the last few years and once again stoked the flames for creativity and eventually and thankfully he felt ready to step out once again as an artist with Oli Brown & The Dead Collective. Teasing us with the band’s debut single “Haunted” it signalled yet another shift in the musical direction but nothing too far from RavenEye, an easier on the ear more melodic, less angst-fed version that once again allowed Oli to express his deep musical ability and flex those proverbial musical muscles to a different beat.
So what we have here is a four-track EP of three original songs and a fourth which is an acoustic version of “Haunted” with the sublime Jo Quail on Cello. The EP’s opener “Heard It All Before” kicks off with Oli’s signature vocal style cutting through its bitchin’ riff and a glorious solo to match remind you what we have all been missing over the last number of years. “Sinking Ship” is a glorious track that has this great pace to it, it just ebbs and flows so beautifully and with its earworm of a chorus, it’ll be stuck in your head for days. The debut single “Haunted” is up next and carries a seriously emotive chorus if ever there was angst and trauma conveyed in a vocal line this is it, it was the hook that caught the attention and imagination when they teased the bands arrival and understandably one of the EP’s stand out tracks. I look forward to catching this one live for sure, but the EP is wrapped up with an alternative version of the same track featuring the aforementioned Jo Quail alongside Oli on acoustic guitar for a truly beautiful rendition to wrap up a truly stellar recording.
I know Oli Is a perfectionist, so the hours spent putting this together have been well indeed time well invested, ‘Prelude” is a glorious taster of what is to come.
Thankfully you do not have to wait long to sample this beauty yourself Prelude arrives Friday, Jan 27th and his spring sees Oli return to stalking the stage with the band playing their debut headline show February 1 at The Flying Circus Newark swiftly followed by Planet Rock Winter’s End festival and a UK tour in March with Northern Irish rock royalty, The Answer – tickets on sale now here.