Olly Olly Oxen Free
by Gregory and the Hawk on FatCat RecordsReleased 01/11/2010
‘Olly Olly Oxen Free’ is the first single taken from Leche, the full length from New York’s Meredith Godreau under her Gregory And The Hawk pen name. The album and this single demonstrate the distance she has travelled from the gentle, pop-inspired roots of her earlier material, yet her peerless grasp of head-bobbing rhythms, ear-piquing hooks and eccentric, otherworldly noise snippets clearly, wonderfully, remains.
‘Distance travelled’ is an operative phrase here. Meredith writes: it turned out the idea behind the album was about traveling all around - both physically and psychologically - and observing many different places, people, and behaviours but always from a detached perspective, never directly involved. Traveling was a major influence on the album, as was personal change and growth.
An inspired, summery slice of warming pop music presented through a genuinely poetic and inventive songcrafting, ‘Olly Olly Oxen Free’ starts with flickering drum machine rhythms and main melody duty is shifted effortlessly between layers of vocals and pizzicato violin. The songwriting was informed by collaborator Adam Pierce (aka Mice Parade), but Meredith’s instinct eventually led her back to a solo recording using ukulele and her living room organ.
The track is backed with non-album cut ‘Whisper the Answer’, a great, procession-brass and ukulele led second example of Godreau’s gentle and intimate songwriting, here bolstered by a lush full-band arrangement and swelling, skipping synth arpeggios.
For new album Leche, Godreau initially started to tread a different creative path to that which yielded her debut FatCat album, 2008’s Moenie and Kitchi, starting instead with the process that began her musical career. Her 2006 digital single – which almost immediately sold 20,000 copies as soon as it was released – was a home-studio project: a piece of music to which one can still trace a linear path from Leche, and a piece of music entirely the product of her own instinctive, intuitive bedroom-studio recording. In terms of songcrafting routes, Leche lies somewhere between the twinkling, intimate, close recordings of that early material and the larger-scale, studio-polished shimmering sweetness of Moenie and Kitchi.
Here, Godreau – starting work on this album in winter 2009 - would often begin writing with no prior plans in place, writing and self-recording entirely from a tabula rasa, new textures inspired by whatever had preceded them in order of recording. From here, much of the music was taken to her garage/studio and accorded additional mixing, instrumentation and attention by a team of friends/engineers/collaborators, Jeremy Backofen (Felice Brothers), Rob Laakso (Amazing Baby, Diamond Nights, Mice Parade, Swirlies), and Adam Pierce (Mice Parade, Swirlies).