Deep. Soulful. Powerful. Airy. Personal.
Just a few words to describe Chicago native Olivia Hudson's new album, The Ninth House. The album was released on Nov. 30, 2018, and is an inside look on Hudson's journey in love, change, as well as growth and development.
What's interesting is that the 20 something year old recorded this album in the comfort of her dorm room using the recording software, Reason. Unlike other artists, Hudson arranged the tracks of the album in chronological order, the first track being from Jan. 2017.
The sound of Olivia's voice isn't the run of the mill high pitched female voice. It's low, smooth, and real. There's something about her voice that makes everything she's saying mean more. The first song that comes to mind when I heard Olivia's voice for the first time, was when Wé McDonald covered Micheal Bublé's song 'Feeling Good' on The Voice.
Both singers share that deep voice, but it feels like they're putting their souls on display for all the world to see and giving listeners a front row seat to what's going on in their hearts and minds. It's almost as if a channel is being created as an intimate line of communication.
I would consider this album more folk or low-key indie than folk-rock. If anything, I would classify the album as pure soul and acoustic. The strumming came from either a guitar or ukulele. I haven't found many artists who use the ukulele as their primary/exclusive source of sound. Actually, I don't know many artists who use the ukulele in their music.
When I see the word rock in a musical setting, I think of drums, guitar riffs, bass, or beats. None of these things have to play a major role in the background, and they can be subtle but, I still imagine their presence. While most songs were primarily acoustic; 'Five Stages' and 'When I Get Back Home' were the only two songs on the album that sounded like they had more than one layer of sound. I thought I could hear taps of a bongo and shakes of maracas in the background.
You can tell it isn't professionally mixed or mastered; take a song like 'Lucky People' by Waterparks and compare it to Hudson's 'The Castle Theater.' Both songs only have one layer of sound, they're both played on an acoustic guitar, and when I listen to them, I can picture the artist singing into a microphone while playing. The only difference is when I listen to the Waterparks song, I can tell that its been cleaned up in editing because it's quiet, and the way the echo from the strumming comes across is too perfect, whereas the echo coming from Hudson isn't as perfect.
It may seem minor, but it makes a world of difference. It comes across more raw, moving, emotional, and I could tell that everything sung was personal. This album comes across in a way that make it appear that Hudson is trying to mentally process things that she's going through.
I felt like i was listening to Olivia read right from her journal and revealing her personal thoughts and feelings. I know that 'Lucky People' is a personal and emotional song, but my thoughts and opinions are tainted by a, listening to the song many times, b, being a longtime fan of the band and their albums, and c, I feel like I personally know this artist.
From them opening up about the album in which this song is on as well as knowing what the artist has been through in the past, The Ninth House feels more personal because its not professionally made.
I thought that this album was good, however, I found that it was a little slower and tamer than I'm used to. I wouldn't call it my favorite album, and I probably won't be waiting eagerly for the next album, but I'm really impressed that Olivia was able to pull off something as difficult as recording/edit an album from her college dorm room. That doesn't sound like an easy thing, but she did an incredible job. I would recommend The Ninth House or any of Olivia's other works to anyone who is enjoys listening to songs that are slow, deep and soul bearing.
In addition to The Ninth House, Olivia Hudson also has released an EP entitled Intersections. She also has released singles for songs, 'The 9:30 Club (Sorry)' and 'Five Stages' all of which are available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.