Review of “Time & Age” by Olivia Dyer

From the truth-telling troubadours of Big House Church’s creative community in Norfolk, VA, comes Olivia Dyer, part folk singer, part storyteller. Her full length album, Time & Age is a shoebox of memories, hopes, and lessons learned. Dyer is sentimental; several tracks feature the unpolished but authentic voices of friends and family. Her album art includes the floral design of her mother’s wallpaper and her fellow creatives are friends so close they could be blood related. It’s this theme that continues throughout, the attention to the little things that make her who she is. There’s a graciousness in her lyrics, from the acknowledgement of her weakness to the security of the profound wisdom and heritage she’s received to the questions she’s still working out. 

Olivia recorded her album with Everett Hardin at Red Yeti Audio in Boone, NC. Everett is known for his work with artists like Benjamin James and John Lucas.

Dyer’s voice is lacy, delicate, precise. To the followers of Sean Feucht it might seem familiar; that’s because she was featured on Messengers’ track Making Melody. She knows herself and what she can do- there’s not a struggle to conform to the belting powerhouse persona many female vocalists feel obligated to. Instead there is a contentment with the style she fits best, and that’s what gives the magnetism. There’s a clarity in her voice too, one that matches the honesty of the lyrics she sings. From the story-like details in Morgan to the close paraphrase of the Psalms in Fragile Heart, Dyer is careful to bring lifelike dimension to each song she creates.

The instrumentation on the album is accessible but not boring. Piano, guitar and strings carry all the charm of acoustic sets but remain in humble servitude to Dyer’s voice. For classification’s sake it would be easy to call the album folk, but it’s the little touches that set the songs apart from the expected Americana storyteller mold. For example, My Life is Not My Own carries a grittier climax, thundering with toms and swelling strings (not to mention Ian Randall Thornton’s gripping voice). Time & Age uses plucky strings to gain that quirky Regina Spektor vibe mixed with steady kick drum and claps a la Rend Collective. Lover Has a Lover gives some bluesy grooves with a shadowy Leslie and a dirty electric guitar solo. 

Olivia Dyer has written songs like every other capable non-professional songwriter. They’re personal, they’re truthful, they’re solid, they’re vulnerable. But what sets Time & Age apart is the incredible and unmoving feeling of constancy that the listener is left with. In only 11 songs, Dyer manages to pay homage to the heritage she’s received, both from her spiritual and familial communities. It’s truly a beautiful thing to see this set in song, for in it we not only see the past, but also we see an establishment of her own legacy. 

Buy this album on iTunes now, or pay what you want through Bandcamp! Be sure to visit her artist page and get to know this amazing worship leader and songwriter:

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