Spooks McGhie - 'Olin'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

‘Olin’ is an interesting piece, because it’s a retrospective of McGhie’s life and his pursuit of his dream through music. The record is riddled with nostalgic memories, delivered in spoken word from his grandmother and aunt. Normally, this tactic would feel cheesy, and would decrease the value of the record’s solo replayability. However, that really isn’t the case with ‘Olin.’ The technique is used sparingly, and it acts as a storytelling catalyst to further the message McGhie is trying to convey.

McGhie’s lyrics are notable, as is his delivery. He’s found a nice balance between hip hop and rhyme rapping, mixing a firm R&B base with a Justin Timberlake-esque style. The entire record roots itself into rhythm and blues, more than anything else. That’s a positive path for McGhie to follow; his voice lends itself to it very well.

The production of the record is top notch, and surprisingly good for an independent hip hop artist. The bread and butter of the studio performance is synthesized with electronic beats and synths, but every so often, an interesting performance emerges, such as the end of the second track of the album, ‘Echo,’ where a hard hitting, energized guitar solo sets the stage for McGhie’s second storytelling voice over, performed by his aunt. As a result of a firm production and a talented performance, the set glides off your speakers, effortlessly entering your space without intrusion through poor production - because nothing is more distracting than a performance that doesn’t gel well or hasn’t been mixed properly.

‘Olin’ is a variety record in simplest terms. Some tracks feel like a soul-pressing R&B album, and some tracks feel like house music. ‘Shine Tomorrow’ would be very at home at the end of a Saturday night dance club set, and ‘Check the Rhyme’ would be equally at home low riding in the hood. (Yes, ‘low riding in the hood.’ I’m pretty white, aren’t I?)

The finale of the record, ‘Olin,’ is superbly produced, and ends the retrospective collection with the perfect amount of flare. It’s McGhie’s anthem to following your dreams: going as far as you can, and then taking one step further. The chorus gets a bit repetitive, but it’s still an apt exit to the record.

‘Olin’ is a very good LP, and one of the better independent records I’ve heard this year. It’s not perfect - tracks like ‘Organic’ have a tendency to drag, and as endearing as the eye witness accounts are to his life, they enter a realm that seems a bit self indulgent. It’s important for independent artists to reach for the stars, but also understand they aren’t one. At least, not yet. The retrospective memories and quips throughout the record would be much more engrossing if McGhie was coming from a higher plane. He’s still a small time indie artist, though, so it feels a bit contrived. That said, it’s still very worth checking out, and fans of R&B, rap, or electronic music will find something to enjoy.

You can download/buy the album on McGhie’s Band Camp, and you can follow him at the different social networking sites below.