22 Feb 2024
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Greta O'Leary - Single Review: Outnumbered

24 Feb 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Outnumbered is the debut single from Poneke alt-folk artist Greta O’Leary, and from the first delicate picked notes on guitar, violin and double bass, the listener is being brought into an incredibly atmospheric world. Her voice belies her age, as one can never believe that anyone as young as this could have suffered the pain this voice brings us. Over time a few more instruments are added to the mix, but it is always her voice at the heart of everything, the dark light in the cave, with everything else crushing around but not daring to get into the glimmer, no matter how dim it is. I was trying hard to think who she reminded me of, and the closest I could get to was Patti Smith, but that was still wrong, and then while reading her bio I saw a name I hadn’t thought of in years, Vashti Bunyan, and it all fell into place. For those who have never heard of Vashti, she released an album in 1970, Just Another Diamond Day, which was recorded with the assistance of Simon Nicol and Dave Swarbrick (both Fairport Convention) and Robin Williamson (The Incredible String Band). It sold so poorly that she dropped out of the music business altogether for more than 30 years, yet it is still an incredible album (I am almost ashamed to admit I only have it on CD, but the original vinyl is a collector’s item).

Vashti has since been hailed as the godmother of freak folk, and that is a great description for this single as it is acoustic, with a free-thinking aesthetic and a refusal to conform. Greta’s voice is multi-dimensional and is something of an acquired taste in that there is a great deal going on, and sometimes she can even seem to be slightly off key, however, this is part of the attraction and it combines to provide additional depth and emotion to the proceedings. I really wasn’t too sure the very first time I played this, as even though I play a great deal of folk, this does not sound like anyone else I have heard recently, and it took some time for my ears to become accustomed to the song. Consequently, I cannot imagine this getting much airplay in a time when music is disposable and only fit for the background (or at least that’s what most people seem to think). But for those prepared to actually listen, this is a truly deep emotional and atmospheric performance, and I am keen to hear the EP she is promising for later this year as I am sure that will be a real treat.
Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Greta O'Leary

Spook-folk Sweetheart Greta O’Leary is a songwriter and musician whose pervasive yet spacious sound cuts through the thickest of skins. Poignant, heartbreaking, and occasionally absurd, O’Leary seizes us with her dynamic voice, bending the folk-genre to another plane. Think Angel Olsen meets Vashti Bunyan.

Coming of age during a few nomadic years hitching the globe, Greta’s lifelong love of music was ignited through the folk scenes of Australia and beyond, a contrast to her childhood home of blues and rock and roll. O’Leary began publicly releasing in early 2022, her first single Outnumbered charted on independent radio stations such as BFM, RDU, Radio One and Radio Control, and gained 140,000 views for its self directed music video.

"Writing and feeling is truly all that has ever made sense to me”. Currently being mentored by producer/musician Tom Healy (Tiny Ruins, Marlon Williams), receiving NZ on Air development funding and previous mentorships from the inimitable Liz Stokes (The Beths), Frances Dickenson (Establish Music) and Aston Rd, it is clear this is a fact.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Greta O'Leary

Releases

Treasure Horse
Year: 2022
Type: EP

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