“In A Mood” is the aptly named second album from Australian born multi-instrumentalist Simon Okely. He is the voice, instrumentation and production behind the alias Slow Dancer. Despite the thoughtful songwriting being similar to that of his debut album “Surrender”, released in 2014 “In A Mood” gives off a much warmer feel. The beauty of the album is due to its genuine, natural simplicity. Okely’s delicate, melodic vocals are smoothly sung over warm, welcoming chords that are heavily influenced by the soul era of the 60’s. Subtle percussion is coupled with mellow bass and topped off with Okely’s own brand of attentive production which results in the tender, ethereal atmosphere that “In A Mood” is steeped in.
The album has a clear philisophical character. Perhaps it’s the fact that Okely has a reflective temperament (a self professed fan of Aristotle) or that the artist clearly has an ear for specifically placed hooks within his writing which makes every song on the album far greater than the sum of its parts. His self production is a testament to how well he grasps the placement of his musical odds and ends. The overall result is a thought provoking atmosphere which is drenched in nostalgia.
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Firstly, It all kicks off with “In The Water”, a soulful, stripped back gospel style track that sets the mood for the whole album. Next we have, “Bitter”, the only up tempo track on the LP, with its repetitive bass groove and motown feel. “Don’t Believe” is the newest single from the album and incorporates a drum machine for a more modern take while retaining a seductively warm feel. “I Would”, is arguably the most stunning track on the album due to its honest acoustic guitar introduction building slowly into a masterfully arranged composition of pleasant strings. It’s also the track in which Okely’s lyrical prowess stands out most. “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but your words could destroy me, but I’ll just have to reveal myself”.
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The most singularly memorable musicality on the album is that Okely’s rich vocal often crescendos into an odd warble that will either be embraced as a unique trait or just plainly hated. Apart from this and possibly some of the bass work. There is nothing singularly lasting about the album. At times it might all seem a little too polite but its overall warmth is like a musical blanket that will keep you wrapped up for long moments. In a critical sense, one might feel that the fabric of this blanket is soaked in a purely monochromatic mood. One might further suggest that both the mood and the material itself has been stretched a little thin by the end of the compact 35.07 minute running time. However, there is enough beauty and intricacies spread throughout the music-scape to keep listeners from slipping into a dream like boredom.
In conclusion, ‘In A Mood’ is a perfect Sunday afternoon album. It does exactly what you expect of it. It picks you up out of your current state and lays you back down gently in the one created specifically by Okley. He reveals himself to possess the sensitive artistry which can captivate listeners with simple hooks, fragile vocals and vulnerable lyrics. ‘In a Mood’ was released on June 9th by ATO records.