I’m thinking of Sir John Everett Millais’ painting of Ophelia, from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as I listen to Myriads by Glaswegian singer-songwriter, Officer. I’m not sure whether it’s the album artwork, references to nature, or the serene and poetic music which has triggered the association, but unable to get the image out of my brain as I listen, I think about something a friend said to me recently about art: “There’s no point debating what art is, but rather what it means to us”.
Music, like most forms of self-expression, is considered by many as an art form. And, just as an individual may look at a painting and feel vastly different emotions to the person stood next to them, an individual may listen to a song and feel something completely different to what the artist originally intended the track to mean. For me, Myriads is an interesting album because although a large proportion of the lyrics are melancholic and despondent, such as “Glass ceiling / I can’t break you” in ‘Glass Ceiling’, the melodies feel full of vitality and hope.
As Officer cries “it’s not fair and I’m too scared” in the emotional ballad, ‘One Day’, his voice climbs the scales to a delicate falsetto, and it’s hard not to feel shivers up your spine. Very rarely is music as raw and emotive as this produced by male artists. The emotional frailty achieved in this record is credit to David Logan’s enigmatic vocal, soaring like a bird which refuses to have its wings clipped.
By the time Officer pleads “Can we talk?” three tracks in, you’ve already gleaned that the man behind this record is a romantic individual – romantic, but nonetheless realistic. The desire to start over is a theme which emerges from tracks such as ‘Can We Talk?’ and ‘Act of Survival’, but simultaneously Logan recognises that some things must come to an end. These songs are not saccharine idyllic tales crafted from the fairytales we were told as children; they are the product of real life experiences – the ‘heartbreak warfare’ of everyday life, as it’s been termed by John Mayer. It seems these tracks are exercises in dusting yourself off and getting on with life, no matter how battered your heart may be.
Tempo is used expertly throughout the record to craft this sense of resolution; an ability to get back up off the floor when life throws you punches. Midway through the album, lead single ‘The Waters’ explodes into life, a frenetic drumbeat combining with a fast paced lyrical evocative of Twin Atlantic, owing to David Logan’s Scottish twang. The track feels somewhat out of place given the sea of emotional ballads which have come before, and indeed, follow after it, but its placement couldn’t have been better in terms of demonstrating Officer’s versatility. ‘The Waters’ is followed by ‘Ambulance’, complete with a Spanish guitar sounding intro and chorus, which makes the album feel like a wave; the ripples are gentle at first, gathering pace and speed before the wave swells and breaks on the shore. The album – rather than placing all the filler tracks in the middle like some artists are guilty of doing – carries the listener from the opening note until the final chord.
It’s only as I experience the final ripples of ‘Burst’ and the electronic-come-choral components of ‘AFM’ which wash over my eardrums, that I realise what made me think of the painting in the first place. Like the tale and painting of Ophelia, this album is both terribly tragic and infinitely beautiful, all at once.
Myriads is set for release on the 31st July, but I strongly encourage you to pre-order it on iTunes – now!
Words by Beth Kirkbride