Alastair Ottesen “Pathless Land”

Independent, 2020

Skilfully written songs, stunning arrangements, all with a timeless feel.

It can often feel as though timeless albums are a thing of the past, only to be produced in a rose-tinted bygone era, as if the current manufacture of music doesn’t allow for these anomalies to exist, of course, this is not the case. Alastair Ottesen’s latest release is proof that these albums are still out there waiting to be discovered. ‘Pathless Land’ is Ottesen’s fourth offering, it is clear that the lessons learned, and the experience gained from his previous three releases have gone into producing a thoroughly interesting, enjoyable album that reveals itself a little more upon each listen. The themes covered vary from love to politics, each topic is written about in a masterful way which allows the listener to reflect one’s own experiences onto Ottesen’s writing.

‘Pathless Land’ opens with ‘Pathless (Intro)’ which strikes the perfect balance of hypnotic strings and rich piano, all carried by an effortless 6/8 drum groove, which along with the melodic slide guitar almost ventures into the realm of mid-70s era Little Feat. ‘Nothing Like The Stars’ introduces Ottesen’s vocal, which carries his slightly cryptic lyrics, such as “television tries, to drop you in the big parade” the music builds with the layering of strings and guitars which result in some enthralling counter melodies, this approach is continued into ‘Soul In Us’. However, the lyrics seem to lean towards a distaste of the modern world, yet do not come across as preachy. These countering subject matters continue on through the fantastically named ‘Counterfeit Love’ and the powerful ‘Need You Like You Need Me’ which also contains some very classy slide guitar work reminiscent of Blake Mills. All tracks have these distinctive melodies with a quirky yet charming vocal delivery. The album is expertly concluded with ‘Pathless – Reprise’ which is just as compelling as its earlier twin and invites multiple listens.

Perhaps this isn’t an album that’s likely to appear on mainstream radio or featured on Spotify playlists. However, ‘Pathless Land’ is an unapologetically unique release, which features skilfully written songs, stunning arrangements, all with a timeless feel. Listen once and you will be sure to revisit time and time again.

9/10
9/10

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