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  • Bryon Harris

Almond&Olive - 'Standing at the Precipice'

Almond&Olive, Natalie Alms and Ollie Davidson, are a new singer-songwriter Folk-Americana duo. Their debut album, 'Standing at the Precipice' features Alms and Davidson in addition to several guest studio musicians. Recorded at Kingsize Sound Labs in Chicago in 2016, produced and engineered by John Abbey, mastered by Peter Andreadis & All City Mastering, 'Almond&Olive's 'Standing at the Precipice' is one of the best new folk albums of the year; it's nothing short of a masterpiece offering 11 timeless songs that fans of folk and Americana will deeply appreciate and listen to over and over.

'Standing at the Precipice' starts with the song "We Will." The song commences with a stark and emotional first line sung by Natlie that grabs the listener immediately, "The Greatest heroes die young, fighting for their victory song, while their lovers stay at home, looking up at the dark sky singing." Natlie's voice is folk-perfect with character and purity of tone. Shorlty, Ollie joins in. Ollie's voice is equally compelling making for a harmonic combination that is amazing; these two singers sound like they've been making albums together for years blending like two old souls in every way, from their vocal tone to their acute sense rhythmic articulation and dynamics. The song continues to build with impressive instrumentation.

The next song up is the title track, 'Standing at the Precipice.' This well-written song has a great groove with rhythm guitar at the foundation and very enjoyable harmonica solos. The chorus is incredibly catchy and very memorable, "You and I standing at the precipice. You and I staring down the gun. You and I both in the thick of it. We were never gonna to run. Watching as the walls come down. We’ll see it through to the end." The song is about getting deeper into a hole, trying to dig your way out, and looking for answers.

Another favorite song is "LA" which is the fifth track on the album. The song opens with Natlie and Ollie singing in unison. "Do you remember when we were together? Do you remember when we felt brand new?" It's a song about lost love. This song has a delightful quality about it and even though it's about splitting up and feeling tore down, it puts a smile on your face. Almond&Olive know how to write songs that are heartfelt without bringing down the listener; rather, the band is sharing their story and the listener is invited in to share their feelings. The use of rhythmic stops makes the song fun and the instrumentation, especially the piano playing, is brilliant.

"LA" is followed by another charming song, "Get By." "Get By" has a nice rhythmic foot-tapping flavor that builds into a full arrangement when the chorus arrives with great horn solo. Following these two mid-tempos is the song "Nadine" which presents a change of pace and mood for the album. It's a truly lovely and emotional love song that pulls on the heartstrings with a beautiful melody and crying guitar. "Your heart belongs to somebody else and so should mine. And the memories of what we were are beginning to fade" Alomond & Olive have a knack for honest lyrics that are easy to relate to and sung with a lot of soul." The album's notable lineup includes: Natalie Alms (Banjo, Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals), Ollie Davidson (Guitar, Harmonica, Percussion, Vocals), The Hoyle Brothers (Steve Doyle - Guitar, Mandolin, Brian Wilkie - Pedal Steel, Lance Helgesen - Drums, Josh Piet - Bass), Gerald Dowd (Drums, Percussion), Phil Roach (Violin), Anna Jacobson (Violin, Trumpet, French Horn), Scott Stevenson (Piano, Organ), Yvonne, Faith & Joan Of The A Team (Vocals), Ruby Harris (Mandolin), & John Abbey (Guitar, Upright & Electric Bass, Percussion). The musicians sound natural as though they are on a stage jamming live and the production and mix are stellar. From the pedal steel to the violin, the horns, mandolin and banjo, every ounce of phrasing is tasteful and well-done. The rhythmic sections - bass, drums, percussion, guitar and piano - are in-the-pocket. Every song on the album is a gem waiting to be discovered and the last song, the ballad "Heartbeat," is no exception. It opens with beautiful, acoustic finger-picking joined later by simple, gorgeous violin motifs against the duo's warm vocals. The lyrics are moving - "Nobody owns your heart. Nobody owns your heart." It's a raw, honest song about pain and longing with an encouraging message of hope.

Almond&Olive couldn't present a better debut album if they tried. 'Standing at the Precipice' is waiting to be discovered like a treasure on a beach; if you are lucky enough to discover this group, you will feel like you found a diamond in an oyster - a rare, exquisite, tasteful, one-of-a-kind and gorgeous find that you want to keep in your song collection forever. You can find more information about Almond&Olive on their website. Their debut album is available on all major digital outlets.

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