The Water Goes The Other Way


2x10" version. It is astonishing which references all come to mind when you listen to the debut album of Oliver Earnest for the first time. Omaha is still quite vivid, and above all, Bright Eyes or Cursive. You think of the Mountain Goats, and while you're at it, of John Darnielle, and with him, one of the best songwriters of all time. You tip your hat to Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse in your mind's eye. And when it gets quieter, more ethereal, you're not all too far from the ballads of the Fleet Foxes or even from sitting down at a candlelit table with Iron & Wine. When Oliver does let the pathos of his voice sound, one is quickly at The Divine Comedy, and when you immerse yourself in the lyrics, several wonderful scenes from everyday life emerge, which could just as well be straight out of a Jim Jarmusch film. For a young guy from Stuttgart who was known by insiders previously perhaps at some time as a member of the post punk band Kaufmann Frust? With the references mentioned above you're not entirely wrong after all --particularly with Bright Eyes: "As a matter of fact, his album I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning is at the very beginning of my path of wanting to become a songwriter," Oliver admits. A mix of defiance and understatement apparently led him to make music himself and start singing, "even though my voice was hardly worth mentioning back then." It is meanwhile definitely well worth mentioning -- particularly combined with lyrics that never cease to surprise, that sway between melancholy, dry humor, and extremely precise observation. That a German could be so eloquent in the use of the English language only comes as a surprise to those who are not familiar with Oliver's biography. To describe the music on The Water Goes The Other Way, you could very well use a line from one of Oliver's songs. Even though it means something different in the song, it could also be a sticker, stuck onto the cover as a recommendation. The lyrics, which often venture into dark terrain, are juxtaposed by Oliver together with his producer (and fellow Kaufmann Frust band member) Florian Stepper with music that gives the beautiful melodies room while, at the same time, vibrating with ideas in just the right parts -- more than one would usually expect on songwriter albums; not unless they are by the likes of Sufjan Stevens during his opulent phase. Oliver Earnest lives up to his pseudonym here once again and says that Flo's influence can't be appreciated nearly highly enough.