“O’Dream” by Clay Joule

Finding motivation through music is a practice as old as the medium itself, and there’s a lot of inspirational magic to behold in Clay Joule’s soulful new soft rocker “O’Dream” this June. Written with the war in Ukraine on his mind, Joule approaches the subject of peace with something more than familiar poetic jargon that we’ve been hearing for decades now; it’s within his harmonies that he illustrates his narrative, demonstrating a creative wit that has been sorely missing in the mainstream pop response to the conflict. “O’Dream” lives up to what its title implies in creating quite the surreal and inviting backdrop against which to imagine a time without war hopefully in the immediate future.

You can tell right from the moment that Joule begins to sing that he’s invested in the words in these verses wholeheartedly. Where a lot of other singer/songwriters have been cashing in on disasters and political discord for the better part of the past sixty years, this is a player who seems to actually care about what he’s putting out on the table in this performance, painfully assembling verses that bear much of the emotional depth he’s using to create this story and share it with the world.

Joule’s singing follows the guitar’s lead rather than the other way around towards the end of this track, but this doesn’t leave his voice nor the verses he’s constructing sounding even remotely defused by the instrumental might. I think that the opposite is true, and the levelness of the lead vocal with the guitar parts is a symbol of equity and resolve between the elements in this arrangement that matches the tone of the lyrics beautifully, and it’s details like this that make me really intrigued by the notion of this singer/songwriter creating more content soon.

As harmony-driven as this is, as have been the last few singles that Clay Joule has released this year, it’s the thrust of the beat that seals the deal for me in “O’Dream,” particularly thanks to the punchiness of the drums at the midway point of the track. This is a beat that isn’t afraid to get dirty and run straight into the sizzle of the guitars, which sounds even more brazen when you’re listening to the song than it does in this description. Taking chances can result in amazing things in rock n’ roll, and this artist doesn’t mind telling us as much with his new single.

In every department that matters, “O’Dream” is a rock song that has meaning in a fashion so many others have fallen short of equaling, and it makes sense why critics and fans are taking notice of its arrival.

There’s a serious lack of quality content supporting the Ukrainian resistance on record store shelves at the moment, but this is one song that I was attracted to the very first time I listened to it. Its unambiguous affection is not all that easy to come across right now in pop or any other genre, and it’s something I could use more of as a listener.

Michael Rand

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