Olivia Hudson – The Ninth House (2018)

Image courtesy of Olivia Hudson

Deep. Soulful. Powerful. Airy. Personal. Just a few words to describe Chicago native Olivia Hudson’s new album, The Ninth House. The album was released on November 30, 2018, and is an inside look on Hudson’s journey in love, change, as well as growth and development.

What’s interesting is that the 20-something year old recorded this album in the comfort of her dorm room using the recording software, Reason. Unlike other artists, Hudson arranged the tracks of the album in chronological order, the first track from January 2017.

The sound of Olivia’s voice isn’t the run-of-the-mill high-pitched female voice. It’s low, smooth and real. There’s something about her voice that makes everything she says more meaningful. The first song that comes to mind when I heard Olivia’s voice was when Wé McDonald covered Micheal Bublé’s song ‘Feeling Good’ on The Voice. Both singers share that deep voice, but it feels like they’re putting their souls on display for all the world to see, and giving listeners a front row seat to what’s going on in their hearts and minds. It’s almost as if a channel is being created as an intimate line of communication.

I would consider this album more folk or low-key indie than folk-rock. If anything, I would classify the album as pure soul and acoustic. The strumming came from either a guitar or ukulele. I haven’t found many artists who use the ukulele as their primary source of sound. Actually, I don’t know many artists who use the ukulele in their music.

When I see the word ‘rock’ in a musical setting, I think of drums, guitar riffs, bass or beats. None of these has to play a major role in the background, and they can be subtle, but, I still imagine their presence. While most songs were primarily acoustic, ‘Five Stages’ and ‘When I Get Back Home’ were the only two songs on the album that sounded like they had more than one layer of sound. I thought I could hear taps of a bongo and shakes of maracas in the background.

You can tell it isn’t professionally mixed or mastered; take a song like ‘Lucky People’ by Waterparks and compare it to Hudson’s ‘The Castle Theater’. Both songs have only one layer of sound, they’re both played on an acoustic guitar, and when I listen to them, I can picture the artist singing into a microphone while playing. The only difference is when I listen to the Waterparks song I can tell that it’s been cleaned up in editing because it’s quiet, and the way the echo from the strumming comes across is too perfect. The echo coming from Hudson isn’t as perfect.

It may seem minor but it makes the world of difference. It comes across more raw, moving, emotional, and I could tell that everything sung was personal. This album comes across in a way that makes it appear as if Hudson is trying to mentally process things that she’s going through. I felt like I was listening to Olivia read right from her journal revealing her personal thoughts and feelings. I know that ‘Lucky People’ is a personal and emotional song, but my thoughts and opinions are tainted by listening to the song many times, been a long-time fan of the band and their albums, and feeling like I personally know this artist. From them opening up about the album, as well as knowing what the artist has been through in the past, The Ninth House feels more personal because its not professionally made.

I thought that this album was good, however, I found that it was a little slower and tamer than I’m used to. I wouldn’t call it my favourite album, and I probably wouldn’t be waiting eagerly for the next album, but I’m really impressed that Olivia was able to pull off something as difficult as recording an album from her college dorm room. I would recommend The Ninth House or any of Olivia’s other works to anyone who enjoys listening to songs that are slow, deep and soul-bearing

In addition to The Ninth House, Olivia Hudson also has released an EP entitled Intersections. Both are available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.

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