Old Sea Brigade – Ode to a Friend (Album Review)

A slowly-climbing addition to the roster of Indie Folk luminaries is the recently founded Old Sea Brigade, whose debut, self-titled EP of 2016 garnered critical acclaim. Now, Old Sea Brigade is ready to unleash its full album, titled Ode to a Friend.

Slated for release on Friday, January 4, 2019 via Nettwerk Records, Ode to a Friend is a whiff of fresh breeze and ripples of soft raindrops. Produced by Jeremy Griffith, it opens with the somber and nostalgic “Sinkhole,” whose cascading guitar plucks, subtle piano punches, and pulsating beats swing like graceful melodic pendulums. The rhythm then picks up a bit as the gentle strums of “Seen a Ghost” follow next, building into an aural heartbeat. The mood then becomes more melancholic with the languorous lullaby “Feel You.”

Will surely remind the initiated of the early years’ blue-wave predisposition of Coldplay (“Yellow”), “Resistance” penetrates the heart with its soothing string melodies. Another piano–acoustic guitar Folk ballad comes next— lead single “Hope,” resonating similar earthy, Pastoral Folk sentiments of the likes of Fleet Foxes (“White Winter Hymnal”), Bon Iver (“Holocene”), and Hollow Coves (“These Memories”). Following in the same simple balladry, the old-pub sound of “Stay Up” and the starry “Western Eyes” are a frolic farther down the memory lane of ’60s Psychedelic Folk.

Old Sea Brigade then goes full-tilt with the midtempo “Straight Through the Sun,” which is easily the album’s highlight; only to revert to melancholia once again, with “Watch It Again,” but this time with a slight drench of fuzziness. The penultimate track—“Cigarette” then returns the listener to the overall ambient and reflective soundscape of Ode to a Friend.

Finally, Old Sea Brigade—which is actually the Tennessee-based, Georgia-born Singer, Songwriter, and Multi-instrumentalist Ben Cramer—wraps up his first full-length with the short, sweet, cinematic panorama of its title-track—ending the album in solitary quietude.

Old Sea Brigade timely delivers its affectionate hush of a debut at the start of 2019. What a warm way to welcome the final year of the closing decade. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Ode to a Friend 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Ode to a Friend:

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ALfie vera mellaAuthor posts

Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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