Watching an artist perform live is such a special experience. The audience is able to absorb all of their emotion and vulnerability and make it their own. It isn’t often that an artist can take that same live emotion and inject it into a produced piece of music, but Olivia Barton has done just that in her debut album, I
Could Have Smiled at You More.
“If You Say I’m Special” was Barton’s first single release and starts her album off beautifully. It details the feeling of being in a relationship with someone who you know is hurting you, but that you can’t seem to leave. The way it was recorded, and then produced, creates the sensation of being in a big room with Barton as she sings of her heartbreak from only a few feet away. The next track, “Thursday,” follows with similar acoustic guitar strums that create the same theme of vulnerability weaved throughout the album. While “If You Say I’m Special” was self-admittance, “Thursday” seems like it could be a letter or a string of texts, put to a melody, creating a very real hypothetical for the listener.
Keeping up with the theme of self reflection, “James Taylor” is a look inward at what Barton could have done better in a prior relationship. While it doesn’t follow the traditional structure of two to three verses and a repeated chorus, it holds some of the most emotion that you’ll hear on her record as she lists all the things she could’ve done better: “I could have been more patient / I could have been more gentle / And I’m sorry for the times that I assumed you were my job.” Holding the lyric that became the album title, the song features the squeaking of guitar strings as chords change, as many of her other songs do, a quality of her work that keeps you present.
“That Simple” is the airiest song on the record, as Barton takes a look back on a relationship that was made more complicated than it needed to be. Serving as both an apology and a declaration of love, the song takes listeners down a winding road.
I Could Have Smiled at You More is a collection of songs that was revisited by Barton after a couple years. She brought on new producers, including a member of the band Baerd, and together they created an eight track album that highlights deep heartbreak, self discovery, and growth. It offers an insight that allows for listeners to seek that closure that they may still seek in their own lives.
Find closure with I Could Have Smiled at You More below: