Big drums, bigger guitars, and an anthemic lead singer; they’re all the essential parts of almost every rock song, but what makes them different in the single “O’Dream” from singer/songwriter Clay Joule is the passion with which they’re being presented and, more specifically, the cause they’re united behind.
When a track is composed from the heart and particularly considering issues bigger than interpersonal relationships, the audience can feel the kinship between artist and narrative, and this element is one of the most powerful we experience in “O’Dream.” Instead of making a generic pop single in support of Ukraine, or even something more stripped-down and folk/rock in origin, Joule is giving us something that could rock an entire stadium – a statement that is bigger than words, that starts and ends with the girth of a harmony much as some of the most iconic rock tracks of all time have. There’s nothing here to suggest that this song was created in the name of self-righteousness, which is an unfortunately common occurrence when it comes to singles made in support of a popular cause. This is instead a legitimate rock song and a performance that feels both soulful and very thoughtful by design.
“O’Dream” is mixed like a straight-up arena rock single, but it’s got an intimacy to its compositional structure that puts it more in line with the traditions of soft rock than it does anything on the hard n’ heavy side of the spectrum. This isn’t to say that the performance itself isn’t throwing a lot of weight around – the guitar parts alone are strong enough to pulverize stone, and their tonality instantly grabbed my attention as a longtime fretwork buff. Joule was thinking about all of the intricate components of this piece as to make everything real for the listener, and his tender lead vocal really reflects his emotional capacities better than anything else here. He’s never modulating the potency of his voice to match the guitars; he’s able to lead the entire band with nothing more than the words he so fluidly connects to the beats, leading us into a climax after the chorus that is about as incredible as any I’ve had the chance to review out of the underground this year.
It would be interesting to hear an acoustic remix of “O’Dream” at some point, but in general, I think that what Clay Joule has in this single is something a lot of people are going to enjoy. When an artist wants to send a big message to the masses indulgence almost always has to be part of the fold, which is why I believe it’s working for this singer/songwriter in a way that a lot of his peers have got to be just a little bit jealous of. In a time of efficiency and minimalism throughout western pop music, this is a defiant piece that really aches with the kind of heart and focus I wish I could find more of on both sides of the dial.