Gold Leaves | The Ornament

Hardly Art (2011)
By RYAN REED  |  August 11, 2011
3.0 3.0 Stars


Grant Olsen, former strummer for Seattle folk duo Arthur & Yu, took the better part of four years to craft The Ornament, his solo coming out party as Gold Leaves. On one hand, it's easy to tell — these nine tracks are carefully crafted and instantly memorable, subtly squeezing into your subconscious like a vivid dream you forgot you'd had. On the other hand there's a tangible feeling of spontaneity in the recordings, as if you're listening to a brand-new band rehearsing for the first time. "The Silver Lining" starts at a whisper: with the wheeze of a holy-ghost organ and an unassuming Dylan strum. Misty-eyed electric arpeggios waltz around a dusty bass counter-rhythm. Then there's Olsen, sounding kinda like David Gray after a long weekend wallowing in booze and classic rock radio, his soulful tenor hitting those seventh-chord sweet spots like a true '60s champ. The title track, meanwhile, sounds like Fleet Foxes minus a few beards and plus a harmony or eight. None of these tracks are sonic marvels in the traditional sense. More likely to have sprouted from an ill-lit garage than a posh recording studio; Gold Leaves go about their dreaminess the au naturel way, and they're all the better for it. Even when that simple reverb swells into a haze, even when the songs linger more than they grow (sleepy-eyed closer "Futures"), there's a warmth that propels every note. "In time, you'll find that no one's out to get you," our balladeer sings through the timpani-drenched charge of "Hard Feelings." "For better or worse, they're gonna leave you alone." I don't know how Olsen knows, but I find myself believing him.
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  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, CD reviews, Hardly Art
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