Sea Oleena is singer-songwriter Charlotte Oleena, who has released two EPs since 2010, “shaped by melancholy and never wanting to leave her bedroom.” Oleena will release her first full-length album next week, which retains a sense of melancholy, but not overwhelmingly—there’s some light in it, too.
Full of visceral piano chords and rivers of washed-out sounds, Shallow is a hazy dream through which Oleena’s soft, entrancing voice threads. A sense of wistfulness permeates these songs, which reflect experiences of heartbreak and loss without ever really doting. “To Hold” starts out drowsy and subdued, but as Oleena repeats the phrase “I’ll try,” the song opens up into a gleaming resolution of strings and resonant guitar. Occasional percussion and pizzicato violin give texture to songs that are otherwise airy and haunting, full of sprawling acoustic voices.
The vocal harmonies in “Shades of Golden” soar tenderly behind her melody as she sings, “Didn’t I say I’d try?” But Oleena’s voice is just as touching in the moments when it stands alone as when it’s in harmony with itself. Later on the record, her bare vocals reveal, “I was more an ocean than a boat.” This is an apt description for the album as a whole—it’s not so much a vessel for a singular feeling as it is a wide, bottomless embrace.
Shallow will be out September 30 on Lefse Records.