Olivia Hudson’s debut album ‘The Ninth House’ is on the face of it an unassuming offering. Here is where it draws its strengths. Hudson has written a thoughtful album peppered with autobiographical nods and situational conversations. Hudson’s raw talent shines throughout ‘The Ninth House’, a collection of catchy, ethereal tracks.
‘The Ninth House’ tracks the year from the beginning of 2017 to the end. A clever way to order an album, chronologically and a personal journey for Hudson. She covers topics of longing, anxious yet embracing towards change, growing as a person, longing for an absent love. Hudson recorded the album herself in her dorm room, using the recording software, Reason. Talking to Halopygian, Hudson said she had been writing music for some time and was inspired by “a lot of Daft Punk and 80s synth pop”. Primarily, Hudson uses music to help “process things I was dealing with.”
The album follows her 2017 EP, ‘Intersections’, a five-track self-released collection of tracks. Hudson collaborates with artist Jungheim on both the EP and new album, with Jungheim appearing on both ‘Five Stages’ and ‘Exhilaration’. ‘The Ninth House’ opens with a breathy lullaby dedicated to all the women in the world “You are safe here with me, you are my sister. There is no exclusion…”. Lines are repeated, harmonising and in the round. It’s a ballad to sisterhood. The album tracks weave together with Hudson’s ukulele. ‘The Castle Theatre’ is more upbeat and an ode to this famous performance venue in Bloomington. Small town faded glamour is explored here along with the claustrophobia of familiarity and the longing for escape.
‘June’, recorded with Marie Mokuba, is a spoken word track which punctuates the half-way point of the album. The representation of repetitive thoughts is present in this monologue. “Soaked in all these hauntings” highlights the terror that one’s thoughts can inflict. ‘Burnout’ talks of Hudson’s fatigue at having to challenge racism. “Crooked pastors in Houston, Texas. There’s Nazis in the office that people elected.” ‘Darling’ has a distinct indiepop feel. A light-hearted track musing about a lover. First released single from the album, ‘The 9:30 Club (Sorry)’, is aimed at people who said they’d go to watch Hudson’s performance at the famous Washington venue but didn’t. A big deal for an emerging artist. Hudson adds to her musical prowess in ‘When I Get Back Home’ by playing the piano on this track. The album ends with ‘To All Ghosts’, an ode to the end of the year, again on piano.
Of the album, Hudson said it “has helped me express a lot of emotions I was afraid of.” She lists her musical heroes as: Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace, Solange, Stevie Wonder, Mary Lambert, and many others. ‘The Ninth House’ is a perfect debut. Honest, raw and beautiful.
‘The Ninth House’ is available through BandCamp.