In the four years between the release of In Camera, the debut (and only) album from his indie-folk duo Arthur & Yu, singer-songwriter Grant Olsen reportedly wavered between making an R&B record, a doo-wop record, and a country record. As a record junkie-turned-musician, Olsen’s struggle to refine and define his influences out of his encyclopedic knowledge of music lore was no easy endeavor. The Ornament, the debut album from his solo project Gold Leaves, is another triumphant indie-folk record subtly indicative of this struggle. Soft folk and country-infused melodies filled with reverb-drenched guitars and distant drumming provide a background for Olsen’s remarkably beautiful voice, which shines through the dreamlike atmosphere of each song. But unlike most bearded indie-folk artists, Olsen lets his voice swell with the music, rather than rest on top of it, resulting in a genuine sound that’s much more of a re-imagination than a throwback to the folk heroes of the 1960s.
After a weekend full of intense performances for KEXP’s live broadcast at the Capitol Hill Block Party, it was quite pleasant and relaxing to have Gold Leaves’ languid tunes fill Barboza. Olsen mentioned that he’d lived in Colorado for a long time and wrote many of the songs there, and indeed the music was very evocative of the wide-open mountainous wilderness.
Despite being in a small dark underground club, it was easy to imagine the Gorge serving as a backdrop to the echoed harmonic vocals and ringing guitars of Gold Leaves. Gold Leaves seem particularly well-suited to their late-afternoon set on the Vera Stage, where they’re playing at 6 pm.