Alt-folk quartet No Oil Paintings have been growing and growing bigger over the last while. Amongst followers of the local scene, they are a name that rolls off the tongue. Fiercely armed with acoustic guitars, banjos, laid-back percussion and harmonious gospel-esque vocals erupting deep from the south (the American South, not Taughmonagh) – they’ve been stomping their way from venue to venue, festival to festival with diligence. We’ve had the mighty fine pleasure of the boys sending us an email with the EP, engineered by Phil d’Alton, to review and a few dollars attached for good measure.
‘God Only Knows‘ opens up the EP. Thunderous claps and stomping introduce a somber guitar lick, tumbling into the soulful vocals of Chris Kelly. The song opens up, evoking visions of a dusty townscape under the blistering sun with misled people going about the everyday mundane. The overwhelming nuance of bending strings from gritty guitars, plunking rhythmic stabs of banjo galore and vocal harmonies take the listener by the hand on a journey through misfortune and wistfulness.
The dark soundscape of ‘Cut Me‘ presents an emotional endeavor slow in pace but captivating in its essence. Its sullen lyricism juxtaposed with sparse instrumentation and droning atmospherics illustrates a omnipresent sense of loneliness. A turbulent sea of reverb suddenly breaks through midway creating a trance-like bliss adding to the deep sorrowful aura captured on the track. Complimentary, ‘All Our Woes‘ follows trend, strolling along with crestfallen gang harmonies and soaring dynamics implemented gracefully.
‘Icarus‘, recorded at Half Bap Studios in the Cathedral Quarter, picks up momentum with a more cheerful demeanour in contrast. We see No Oil Paintings adopt more hasty rhythms and melodies commending swinging grooves and sharp snare rolls. It was a refreshing twist to the EP, with the song’s acapella section and proceeding rush providing a nice energetic bridge. With this track, we walked out of the desert and fell into fast flowing rapids. The waterfall is long behind us. Gently rockin’ us out, ‘Different Lights‘, we float on top of the clear water through peaceful lush green plains to the end of the EP.
A beautiful EP. Evocative and dynamic, masterful in its expression and songwriting.
Favourite track: God Only Knows
Listen to the EP via our Spotify Player
Words by Steven Donnelly