No questions or answers to find Drift along in the shallow tide The comfortable kingdom is mine But then your spark came to set me alight —“Fire”
Arms Wide Open is the debut EP release from Ellyn Oliver, a 27-year-old artist from Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She spent much of her early career helping other artists as a studio musician and performer. Now she is ready to share who she is through her own music. Her Christian faith is central to all five songs on Arms Wide Open, inspiring and encouraging others.
The title track “Arms Wide Open” explores God’s immense love toward those who feel unloveable. The song “Fire” walks the listener from a place of complacency and comfort to the excitement and uncertainty of a burning faith. “Leave a Little Light” uses the powerful imagery of a night traveler drawn toward the light of home. “Diamonds or Gold” explores temptations from Satan, encouraging the listener to remember they have found “someone who loves me better” and “whose love will last.” Oliver ends the EP with a cover of the familiar American folk song “Wayfaring Stranger” that looks at the restlessness and longing many feel in this life.
The songwriting and production quality on this debut release are impressive. Oliver’s unique voice stands out, combining the strength of Adele and the lightness of Norah Jones. Her versatility across many genres is apparent as she fearlessly tackles elements of folk, pop, blues, gospel, soul, and jazz. Her song selection is brave, choosing to cover a folk tune that has already been sung by music heavy-weights Ed Sheeran, Jack White, Emmy-Lou Harris, and Johnny Cash.
Even though Arms Wide Open is a small Independent release from across the ocean, it still deserves our attention. Oliver is able to avoid the commercial pressures of the music industry. She is able to creatively craft each song and be completely honest with the listener. Her authenticity and willingness to explore faith can be appreciated by any listener seeking a breath of fresh musical air. (Independent)