Good morning, Happy Kwanzaa, Boxing Day and whatever else you may be celebrating today (even if it’s just sleeping in late). Here’s some easygoing, introspective tunes from Oktoba, the solo project of Chris Athorne. He’s from Brighton, England, creating his warm, personable sound from folk, Americana and pop traditions. He just released Smoke Signals, his debut album, back in October. Enjoy the first single from it, “Tongue Tied,” performed Live at The Clockwork Owl Studio.
Athorne’s contemplative storytelling goes well with a warm cup of tea on a weekend morning. Lyrically, I wouldn’t say it’s Shakespeare, but rather candid reflections told in plain language of complex human emotions, relationships and life journeys.
Oktoba’s debut EP was Tales and Shadows, released in 2014. It garnered airplay on BBC Radio, and he has followed that up with shows all around the U.K. (including The Great Escape and Together The People Festival) and in the U.S. (Sofar Sounds in Chicago, Rockwood Music Hall in NYC). With this type of music, delicately played and straight from the heart, it’s obviously at its best when performed in front of an audience. As Chris explains, “As songwriters we are given the intimate platform to describe our lives. It’s an amazing feeling when you perform away from home and your music is accepted by new audiences. I really try when writing, to write honestly, giving the listener something that feels familiar and something that they can relate to, no matter who they are or where they’re from.”
Smoke Signals was recorded with producer Tim Bidwell (Kate Walsh, Jack Watts, Fink) at his Clockwork Owl Studio in Brighton. It is a major departure from his debut EP, with guest vocalists and musicians for a more expansive sound.