Exile On Mainstream
Release: 4 March 2013
Conny Ochs comes from Germany and has been making music for over a decade now in various incarnations – with bands, unique projects and as a solo artist. There were a lot of positive comments about his first solo album Raw Love Songs which was released on Exile On Mainstream records in March 2011, however it was the collaboration with Scott “Wino” Weinrich on the 2012 album Heavy Kingdom that really put him on the international map.
In March this year, he follows up his debut solo release with a brand new album Black Happy. The promo describes this as “an album of earnest, melancholic songs where Conny bears his soul with raw emotion, combining his clear vocal and melodic guitar style”. This is a pretty aposite – the other word I would use is mellow.
The music on Black Happy essentially draws upon a broad tradition of Americana and direct comparisons could be made with the likes of Springsteen, Young and Dylan in their more reflective guises.
For the most part it’s just guitar and vocals – Ochs has a good voice and uses it well to compliment a sparse but effective guitar backing. The songs are well written and delivered and occasionally supplemented by backing vocals or harmonica. In some cases a more European folk feel emerges – the acapella “Face In the Crowd” for example. A bonus for me is that the songs don’t meander and are mostly less than 3 minutes in length which provides for compact little vignettes. The highlight track is the intense “Borderline” which picks up the pace a bit and adds some distorted electric riffing to the otherwise overall elegaic mix of the album.
Like the previous albums Black Happy was engineered, mixed and mastered by Thommy Krawallo in Berlin with analogue equipment. This gives the album a warm sound which adds to its’ charm.