Home' Rhythms Magazine : November-December 2018 Contents OH PEP!
I WASN’T ONLY THINKING ABOUT
If you were a musician and wanted a guide as to how to succeed in the
international marketplace then you might look no further than Oh Pep!
for inspiration. This Melbourne duo - Olivia Hally on vocals and guitar
and Pepita Emmerichs on violin and mandolin – have spent a lot of time
touring extensively overseas since their debut album, Stadium Cake, in
Their work ethic
continues unabated. In
August Hally returned
from New York where she
wrote a play titled Album
of The Year with writer/
director James Presson.
They have also run
and even offered their
grant, A Good Idea, for
other musicians. After
appearing at Brisbane’s
Big Sound Festival they
headed off for an October
tour of the USA, while
the first half of November
is in Europe before they
head home for gigs prior
the New Year.
Unlike some other indie
artists, Oh Pep! might not
have got the recognition
at home or any large
government grants but
they have definitely made
their mark and left many
others in their wake. I
think they are headed
for great things (and because they hardly ever trumpet their great
achievements that is where we come in!).
Three years ago Oh Pep! was picked out by NPR as one of the five acts
to watch at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville and was then
invited to Washington DC for one of NPR’s famous Tiny Desk concert
sessions. The reason for the interest from NPR was simple: here was a
duo doing something different to just about every other overseas act
that made the pilgrimage to Music City.
The simple lesson is this: carrying coals to Newcastle, as they say, will
never work. You either do what the Americans do at least as well as
them or do something unique. Oh Pep! falls into the latter category
and this new album is no exception. Where their debut album showed
enormous promise, this shows even more polish, along with excellent
production and a batch of really great songs. They have moved further
towards melodic pop (as opposed to folk/pop) and the fabulous
harmonies are the equal to anyone else this year. Normally, you would
never hear me raving about contemporary pop music – mainly because
the vast majority of it is just not as good as this.
Hally says that these songs were written over the past few years in
a variety of locations as they travelled. The album was recorded in
Melbourne but the sound is so ‘international’ there is no way you could
pick where it was made. It is difficult to believe that it was mainly
just Olivia, Pepita and Joel Quartermain (Eskimo Joe and Dan Sultan)
playing all the instruments and creating this wonderful sound, along
with mix-engineer Marky Wallis (Talking Heads, REM, U2’s Joshua
Tree). Hally penned or
co-wrote the songs while
Emmerichs added the
strings and arrangements.
Emmerichs has said that
they both ‘love’ musicians
such as John Prine and
Lucinda Williams. While
the music here is nothing
like that made by those
idols, the fact that the duo
“were also really drawn to
lyricists” is apparent in the
whip-smart phrases and
I Wasn’t Only Thinking
About You... explores
some universal themes.
Growing older is explored
on ‘25’ and ‘Asking For’
(“we’re almost past our
prime”). It’s nice to hear
people in their mid-
20’s worrying about it!
dominate many of the
other songs ‘What’s The
Deal With David?’ is a
interplay between the two
women. ‘Your Nail and
Your Hammer’ was written in Nashville and was apparently influenced
by the city’s love of Americana.
There are the reflective ballads such as ‘Hurt Nobody’ (written in New
York with Doug Schadt) and the acoustic ballad ‘Parallel’ on which they
sing, “I’m always leaving when you come around....we’re in parallel,
walking different lives.”
The album closes with ‘There Would Be A Riot’, a song whose musical
cheerfulness in its three minutes disguises some darker thoughts. (“It’s
hard to be in love when you are thinking of another/So try to break a
fall by living with your mother”). Like almost all of the songs on the
album there is a lot going on just beneath the surface. The joyous
feeling that the music evokes throughout might just be illusory.
This is another giant step for this young duo who seem to be on the
path to much bigger things. Let’s hope that producing quality pop
music like this brings its just rewards.
Links Archive September October 2018 January-February 2019 Navigation Previous Page Next Page