I’ll be honest by saying that I haven’t had much exposure to folk music before. As a result, I’ve been stewing on this review for a good deal of time now. I don’t have a great grasp of musical terminology, so I think the best way is to approach this is to make a few observations and allow the music to state its case.
On their facebook page, the band Harry Oakwood (Millionaire) portray themselves as “….a streamlined ocean liner of music, steering a true and steady path through an unpredictable sea of three part harmony and foot pounding beats which, combined with an ear for the alternative, enable this incredible ensemble to deliver consistently strong live performances and, most importantly, great songs.”
The band is able to create quite the impression off the first listen. ‘Scared Crow’ which begins as a soft, somber ballad before before the introduction of the horns turns it into an energetic sing-along despite the sobering content of a “cruel, cruel moon rising”. Although ‘Scared Crow’ has been the most popular song of Harry Oakwood when I search up the band, I would like to point to the songs “Brothers” and “Journey Song” as the emotional high points of the work. The subject matter of the working class struggles and ambitions is perfectly complimented by the versatile musical production. In “Brothers”, the piano interjects nicely against the crashing drums as the song really releases itself into a beautiful exuberance. These two songs serve as a crescendo, building on the momentum at the end of ‘Scared Crow’ while creating their own harmonies.
The biggest positive of their music is accessibility, featuring soothing melodies in the beginning to prod at the individual’s deeper thoughts before the steady rise to the triumph last minute of the song manages to evoke the memories and emotions that have been left on the shelf for far too long. The very structure of the EP functions in the same manner. As the final song “Empty Chair” ends, you’ll find yourself thinking that despite the anxieties of the future and the uneasy feeling that one can barely grasp the conditions of the present existence, everything will turn out alright. Then again, having a harmonica can most certainly put a positive spin on anything.In the last few moments of the song, the listeners are asked to “Take a good long look at your life, is it everything you thought it would be?” before the song ends with a fantastic harmony that is simultaneously soothing and provocative. An interesting question to pose, but one that’s definitely in tune with the band’s personal statement.
Harry Oakwood’s music can be rambunctious at times. It can be intimate and soothing in other cases. However, it’s always contemplative and ultimately life-affirming because of its honesty. Definitely one of the biggest musical surprises I have come across so far this year.
Buy it off Itunes