The Olympic Symphonium’s last album, “Beauty in Tension” (2018), received high praise, awards, and acclaim. Today, they release “The Execution,” one of a pair of B-side singles from those recording sessions.
Formed in 2005, in Fredericton, NB, as a side project to explore song writing styles that didn’t work in their bands at the time, Nick Cobham (guitar), Kyle Cunjak (bass/guitar), and Graeme Walker (vocals/bass/guitar) began recording soon after. Joined by Dennis Goodwin (lap steel/guitar/banjo), the band quickly amassed five successful albums in their catalogue.
Recorded in The Old Confidence Lodge, a converted Oddfellows Lodge in Riverport, NS, “Beauty in Tension” is a study and reflection on beauty and love, in all its disguises. Creating a haunting soundscape, lush with strings and pedal steel, the band weaves ethereal vocals into a mosaic of unique majesty – a sound uniquely their own. The most popular songs from that album are “Comedy” and “The Middle,” both widely different in style, and this new single, “The Execution,” bears similarities in sound but offers another look into the themes originally explored on the album.
Starting with a single chord down stroke on the beat by all the instruments – piano, tom, bass and guitar, for an introductory four bars in a slow measured tempo, almost reminiscent of the thirteen steps on the gallows walk, the singer waits to tell the tale. “The execution is new, the ideas are old / You can do what you do, or you can do what you’re told / Words are heavy like stone, yet I carry them still / You can build up a tolerance, with your mouth sitting still.” There is a cost to everything and the price is often more than we bargain for.
“The Execution is a song loosely based on the idea of being an advocate for yourself,” explains vocalist Graeme Walker. “Life can be full of challenges and surprises and sometimes being proud and celebrating small successes can be a good coping mechanism. The seed for this song was planted a long, long time ago. I had some lyrics, and a progression I liked but didn’t really see an obvious form for a complete song. A lovely evening spent at the Old Confidence Lodge allowed us the time to experiment with some new rhythmic ideas and stacks of guitarmonies, and voila!”
The pulse keeps building, the steps sturdily march forward, the guitars break into the main motif, multiplying and reverberating. Guest musician Drew Jurecka on strings, bends the tension to a resolute crescendo and final slow resolve. Much as one would expect with such a powerful concept.
Fans of The Olympic Symphonium will be delighted to hear from this band after a very quiet period. While the song harkens to the past, it indicates a future still ripe with possibility. New listeners will find something intriguing in this tune, certainly perquisite for further listening and a deeper dive into the bands’ long and extensive musical accomplishments.