It had been a tough couple of weeks. One of those periods when your head fills with cobwebs and the strategic picture flashes like a poorly fit neon sign pulsing an annoying buzz each illumination cycle. “Eat at Joe’s” it might say for a brief time but you’d know the gravy would be lumpy and the ketchup rimmed with crust. So you walk by.


How I needed it more than ever and nothing touched me like others’ brilliance. When you’re alone at your desk as all writers must be, head on arms folded over cold Ikean beech, it’s not words or pictorials that’ll jumpstart your heart, a saying or a graphic treatise. Only music. Only music will do.

But it couldn’t be testosterone-fuelled. Crue, Foo and Everclear had their times. Not now. It had to be feminine. The type of power, sincerity, and confidence that only a woman could exude. I thought of Blondie and “Union City Blue”.

Not Beyonce, Swift, or Keys either. I craved something new.

How it happened I really don’t know. I clicked iTunes somewhere and names I’d never seen scrolled their covers. I previewed. Obvious rip-offs and wannabes replied. Then I hit on an aqua-blue album, a woman’s partial headshot showed a hint of an Annie Lennox coiffure.

It was “Self Talk” by Olympia. Was this her name? I played its second track, “Smoke Signals”, and I knew I’d stumbled onto something creative, original and true.

Funk, pop, a small finger of trance, the sultriness of Sade mixed indeed with Lennox and Blondie; maybe Wendy Matthews. But most importantly, this woman’s uniqueness. Soprano interspersed with alto, strong elicitations, energy interspersed with playfulness. A 4/4 beat, doublets, synths, guitars, and harmony. Light and shade. Real genius. Yes, absolute artistry lived here.

I’d found my release.

Olympia, is Olivia Bartley, an Australian singer and musician from Melbourne. “Self Talk” is her second album released 2016, her first, self-titled, came 2013 with an utterly subdued, if more Indie ambiance. In fact, “self titled” may be a misnomer. Olivia describes “Olympia” on her Facebook page as her project, rather than a pseudonym. A project with the epic of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust? I wonder. I tell you, it’s enough to make me want to rejoin Facebook I only left recently just to follow her journey along.

So I finished an article by Ella Chronowski, of AU Review, that had Olivia saying, “I wasn’t sleeping very well while I was writing the album. I’d dragged all my writing to the sea for a change of scenery”.

That indeed is the creative’s way. Some call it the third space, a neutral territory, yes a sea-change (as an anonymous cafe for most can be).

Olivia also said that when song writing, “The idea comes first,” for her. And I couldn’t agree more. Her album moved me so much that within thirty seconds—during its first airing—I had to tell its story, knee deep I was in Google researching for her spark.

Of greatest importance in all this, is my heartfelt recommendation to lovers of sensational, one of a kind, contemporary music to look up “Self Talk” and give it an ear.

As opposed to literature, clothing, and everything on sale in Australia, local debut music never seems to command the big bucks early on. Just don’t take this for granted with Olympia.

Her 11-track album can be found on iTunes for around $11 AUD. And with the fame I’m certain she will acquire, prices like those will surely flee in the future.

If you find a thrill every so often you’re blessed. If you find one that shakes your being, you’ve witnessed the divine. And music never ceases to surprise when I beckon it most.

© 2016 Adam Parker.