Over the course of the Summer I have had the great blessing of discovering a number of exceptional records, but its always even more special when you live in the knowledge of knowing that the album you are experiencing is a debut record. On 17th July 2020, American singer songwriter Oliver Tree released Ugly Is Beautiful via Atlantic Records, and although it may not seem that long ago, already it has created quite some hype, especially given that many within the international music community have named him one of the artists to watch out for.
So with that in mind, being new to Oliver Tree, I thought there would be no better way to proceed than discovering the album for myself. Beginning with opening track, ‘Me, Myself & I’ within a matter of seconds it does not take long for you to realise that the artists strengths lie in the honesty of his lyrics, but from the angle of the conversations we can often find ourselves having with our inner most thoughts, so to start the album with this track seems the even more fitting. Combined with the vibe of the song itself it actually draws you in even more, whereby you start to feel a connection, which for me as a music fan is a vital quality of any strong body as work because it the make or break dealer of determining whether or not you continue to listen to the rest of the tracks any album has to offer.
In the case of there is no doubt with Ugly Is Beautiful that this important connection is preserved, as for instance 1993 continues in the same fashion. Oliver Tree’s vocals when combined with the music itself make this song quite well balanced, but what really fascinates me about the track is how you are getting a mixture of different genres intertwined to create something which like his lyrics, is sonically infused textures. And I think that is part of the charm about Oliver Tree, that this album clearly shows that his music has appeal to everyone regardless of what style of music you using find yourself navigating towards.
I never like to give away all the inside secrets when listening to an album for the first time, because after what fun would that be if I gave away all the juicy details, because after all this is one of those records you need to immerse yourself into in order to fully appreciate what Oliver Tree has to offer. What I will do however so I am not chucking you in at the deep end is give you a few pointers of some of the other tracks to keep an eye out for.
First on my list would be Miracle Man, while it may just be a little over 2 minutes, do not let that fool you because it still packs quite the punch. If you have ever had one of those moments where you get an instant adrenaline rush, well this song will certainly give you that sensation in abundance. And what really does it for me, is the catchy chorus “Tell me what you want? Is it enough for you? Fucking up your life, was it enough for you?’ which going back to my early comments on Oliver Tree’s strengths as a songwriter, perfectly illustrates how when it comes to honesty and speaking his mind, he is one of those bold people who doesn’t hold back. For me that is a massive plus sign because too many times people skate around the edges of sensitive emotions, so to have someone like Oliver Tree who says it how it is, is a much needed breath of fresh air.
My other recommendation when listening to this album would be Joke’s On You. While all of the 14 songs Ugly Is Beautiful has to offer are special and amazing in their own way, this is up there are as one of my favourite, as it is one of those golden moments where Oliver Tree adds a lil touch of Rap to the mix, which is a nice contrast and only enhances the vibe and the meaning behind the song even more.
One final song to point out (before I give away too many spoilers) would probably be the penultimate track Introspective. It is just another example (like all the other tracks) of a piece of music which resonates with the listener to level that it is almost like Oliver Tree is speaking to our mind. Sometimes that can be quite a scary thing, and I get it the levels of vulnerability are different for everyone, but I think what is great about Introspective is, I feel that it symbolises that moment where you are finally comfortable to let those defences down, and the raw emotion that comes with that process. When you add Oliver Tree to the mix therefore it makes that journey a little bit more bearable and safer.
So there we have it just some of my thoughts on the Ugly Is Beautiful. As I said earlier, this is my first time really getting the chance to discover his music for myself, but as initial impressions go, it was a record which really has so much to offer. Originally meant to be released in March, even though lockdown measures and Covid-19 caused Oliver Tree to put those release plans on hold, I think the fact that it was delayed until July actually made its impact even more powerful, because this debut album comes at a time where with all the mixed messages and negative things happening globally, we all needed someone like Oliver Tree to come into our lives to inject a bit of honesty and keeping it real.
Available to listen to now, Ugly Is Beautiful is one record you totally do not want to miss.
Article By Thushara