As a rollicking guitar part sets the stage for the lyrics soon to come into focus, it’s made clear that the rock balladry ahead of us in Clay Joule’s new single “O’Dream” is of rare quality in 2022. While others might be content to bring forth a lot of the same beats and lyrics that have been passed from one generation to the next when it comes to rock n’ roll, there’s personality to “O’Dream” that cannot be faked, and it’s primarily coming from the man in the spotlight himself. Although he is assisted by some excellent players in this backing band, Joule is the undisputed center of our attention in this single, bringing together heartfelt harmonies and epic riffing for a brilliant fireworks show.

Joule’s love of freedom and peace is espoused elegantly in these lyrics, and there’s no getting around the level of passion he’s going to put into every word he sings here. His is a special form of crooning in this performance; one that doesn’t come from a lot of rehearsal or fine-tuning of your voice, but instead finding a place in the narrative from which to present your message. He’s the main protagonist in this song, the storyteller if you will, and it’s his soul that the beat is flirting with even more than the melodies the guitar is producing from beside the lead vocal. This is amazing work, and it’s made a little more accessible thanks to the clarity of the master mix.

This chorus gave me major chills when I was first listening to the track last month, and though I think the guitar part is a bit overstated in this portion of the song, there isn’t anything powerful enough to smother the energy that our leading man is giving up with his pipes. He’s got so much momentum coming out of the chorus that it’s hard to believe we’ve just listened to the main release in the song. The catharsis is spread out and determinedly reachable for anyone who listens to these harmonies, and what Joule is doing here is setting a fine example for what his contemporaries should be trying when making their own melodic tributes in honor of the fight for Ukraine’s independence and autonomy.

Those who appreciate a bright ray of pop/rock when they stumble across one can count on taking a liking to “O’Dream” this summer, and if you haven’t already listened to this track or checked out the other music Clay Joule has been making in the studio this year, now is the right time to experience it. While written for a particular issue unfolding in the world right now as you read this article, there’s a universal warmth to “O’Dream” that will make it an easy-listening piece after many years have gone by, and as long as Joule can keep exploiting that quality within his artistry his name is going to regularly appear in the underground headlines. This song deserves the press, and so does its composer.

Garth Thomas