Olivier St.Louis mixes wavy funk & introverted philosophies on 'M.O.T.H. (Matters of the Heartless)'
Olivier St.Louis has returned with an absolute gem of an EP - M.O.T.H. (Matters of the Heartless) has been a gift during lockdown to lift the spirits. At the same time as encouraging some playful head bopping, the record also confronts personal and collective fears in the depths of Olivier St.Louis' lyrics. The vocals alone are tremendously engaging too, with sprinklings of D'Angelo, Joel Culpepper, and Childish Gambino, but Olivier St.Louis has a clear style of his own on full display here. The singer mixes those smooth, silky tones with his expressive, and sometimes cheeky, personality; this is all underpinned by lush backing harmonies, wavy sound effects, and naughty funk riffs. There is a proper fusion of soul, funk, and blues rock here, and it’s outrageously satisfying on every listen.
The EP kicks off with the most recent single ‘Jump the Line’, followed by lead single ‘Running Wild’, both of which set the tone for Olivier St.Louis’ existential funk. The artist lays down some groovy uplifting melodies while exploring the angst of the modern generation - “I think I’m running out of patience, I think I’m running out of time, I was never good at waiting” (‘Jump The Line’). This theme surrounding the speed of our lives and trying to achieve our aspirations then gets expanded upon in ‘Confliction’, where we move to the inevitability of disappointment and realisation that life is about the journey - not the dream itself.
“Chase the dragon you know will burn you the day you find it
But at least you found it, so when it hurts you, you never mind it.”
There’s a deep sense of awareness in Olivier St.Louis’ understanding of what existence might be, with another line from the same track noting that “Without purpose that's just a hole”. Despite the themes being discussed on M.O.T.H. (Matters of the Heartless), Olivier St.Louis also strongly promotes the idea of a positive mindset. The track ‘Quit’ is a proper toe-tapping head-shaker, musically embodying that friendly dreamer idealism with it’s paced dynamic beats, occasional gentle keys, and sweet summery guitar licks. Alongside the high-spirited instrumentation, ‘Quit’ contains lyrics that feel incredibly relevant to this current world we live in, it’s an upbeat and jazzy polemic on being a solitary introvert but embracing the space to pursue one’s life goals.
“I know I shouldn’t be alone, but that’s when I feel most at home, reclusive, no pressure to prove nothing at all.”
Along with ‘Seratonin’, titled after the biological chemical that we've likely been starved of since early 2020, this is a nice reminder that there are fleeting and misleading elements of the human condition which make you "Feel good for a second then you need it again". There’s also a pleasant alikeness with Olivier St.Louis’ vocals and Sly Stone on this number (it’s almost a contemporary homage to ‘If You Want Me To Stay’), the singer has that ability to speedily flit between delicate intonation and powerful sass, whilst making a captivating philosophical statement.
Olivier St.Louis reminds us that when you are "desperate for lovin’, now you’ll take anything. You ain’t in charge" - our human nature often dictates our behaviour. For all of our preparation and ideals, we humans are essentially all glorified apes who fall into patterns of nonsensical actions, frequently driven by our biology. So you might as well embrace that damn groove and take some relief in having the self-awareness of how we operate, on an individual and collective basis, then you can at least do your best to take control of life. Maybe that's overly delving into the words but, having nearly a year of isolation and self-reflection, I find there’s a genuine profundity to be found in Olivier St Louis’ lyricism.
The production of M.O.T.H. (Matters of the Heartless) is also wonderful, recognisable as the musical alchemy of Oddisee, who is able to blend the wavy rock moments with glaring funk basslines, whilst still maintaining a mellow cosmic atmosphere, regardless of the tempo. Having first discovered Olivier St.Louis featuring on the Oddisee track ‘Rights & Wrongs’ (a track that frequently features on our playlists - one you should definitely revisit), it is a joy to once again hear these two work their magic in the studio together after years of collaborations.
The roots of Olivier St.Louis’ sound are sustained but refined, you can truly hear how he has cultivated a unique style, with Oddisee’s production elevating the slick sound design across the whole project. Fitting, therefore, that Oddisee should feature on the EP’s third track (and second single) ‘Confliction’, rapping the line ‘Retreat & learn & then return with the upper hand’ - these gentlemen have certainly learned how to execute their stylised craftsmanship, here are two artists already at the top of their game. You can also hear this artistic development on Oddisee’s recent outing Odd Cure, featuring Olivier St.Louis on tracks ‘I Thought You Were Fate’ and ‘Go To Mars’.
M.O.T.H. (Matters of the Heartless) is without a doubt one of my favourite discoveries of 2021, with it’s emotive impact, lyrical relevance, and slick sound. The whole EP is worthy of repeat listening and consistently enjoyable, there’s always something new to find here - be that in the underlying messages or the gorgeously layered instrumentation. What’s even better is that Olivier St.Louis is still on the rise, so we can’t wait to follow the artists' career and enjoy the grooves that he continues to offer - a musician to keep your ears and eyes on.