Mike O’Dowd returns with rich, rustic storytelling on new single ‘One Lover Leaves’

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Mike O’Dowd returns with rich, rustic storytelling on new single ‘One Lover Leaves’

Lifted from his forthcoming debut album, this is our first taste of new music from the Melbourne singer-songwriter in five years. 

Driven by the classic kind of storytelling, one with simple anecdotes of life atop a strolling acoustic guitar, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Mike O’Dowd has just unveiled his latest single ‘One Lover Leaves’, his first taste of new music in five years.

Released early in July this year,  ‘Over Lover Leaves’ embraces the Melbourne artist’s indie roots and weaves tales of heartbreak, love and loss into a rich tapestry with respect, care and grace, following on from his debut EP and Single ‘New Blue Moon’ in 2017.

Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Aided by the deft touch of Alex O’Gorman (Angie McMahon, BATTS), ‘One Lover Leaves’ showcases the beauty of O’Dowd’s work which concentrates above all else on the art of storytelling. As evident in his debut EP, there’s something charming about the way O’Dowd phrases his music. Thoughtful and delicate, with each line put in place purposefully. Again, ‘One Lover Leaves’ launches us deep into the artist’s heart; telling a powerfully affecting story with intimate, meaningful themes surrounding love and loss.

Warm guitars lead the way through the four-and-a-half-minute track, shortly followed by graceful violins, gentle basslines and resounding drums, courtesy of O’Gorman, Michael Hayden and Harry Ward.

With melancholy yearning and wistful reflection, lyrically this song employs visual metaphors to tell the story: “Women like flowers, can wither and die.”

Full of charm and grace, a deep-seated melancholy lies at the heart of the track, at least when you listen to it the first time. With beautiful strings and a vocal tone so rich, an undercurrent of optimism is woven through the warmly crafted track, aided by the mixing efforts of Burke Reid. Fittingly, his past credits include master singer-songwriters Julia Jacklin and Courtney Barnett.

O’Dowd’s musicianship, lyric writing and vocals all combine at their absolute best to create a melodic and melancholy feeling with just a hint of power.

Drawing influence from songwriting greats – we imagine the likes of Tim Freedman (The Whitlams), Bob Dylan, Bon Iver, Leonard Cohen, and Neil Young – O’Dowd excels here in making thoughtful and introspective yet warm and inviting music; elegantly contrasting honest, poetic lyrics and beautifully cinematic music, resulting in songs that provoke pause and reflection.

“I don’t really care too much about the technical side of things. It’s more about storytelling. I respect that part of the process the most because I feel it’s the most difficult,” he explains.

“Also, a lot of it is down to luck or chance. You can sit there all day and walk away with nothing or complete a song in five minutes. Also, it’s something that you can never be satisfied with for very long. You’re always chasing the next song and trying to perfect it.”

With a raw, inimitable grasp on songwriting, mastered by Steve Fallone at Sterling Sound, O’Dowd pours himself into his captivating music, balancing the personal with the universal, bringing to life a relatable, moving story that comes from, and speaks to the heart.

“All of my songs are drawn from personal experience. I wouldn’t feel comfortable singing a lyric if it wasn’t,” O’Dowd expresses.

“The point of view may change, but I’ve lived all of the songs in one way or another. I try to write from my subconscious as much as possible and never censor anything that I feel is honest.”

Lifted from his forthcoming debut album, due or release later this year, ‘One Lover Leaves’ is as strong a centrepiece for this record as you’re apt to find. It accurately strikes the heart of O’Dowd’s music, being a sweet strummer of a first-taste with memorable storytelling throughout.

“‘One Lover Leaves’ is the first single from the record,” O’Dowd says, “It sits somewhere in the middle as far as instrumentation goes. About half of the album is stripped down and the rest is fleshed out with strings and percussion. I wrote all of the songs on acoustic guitar and didn’t use anything that couldn’t stand up under those conditions.”


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After spending the last five years living overseas, O’Dowd returned to Australia to write and record his debut album in 2020. This timing meant that road to releasing this single wasn’t easy with a waiting game brought on by the pandemic.

Challenging and refreshing in its own way, O’Dowd took the forced break in his stride, making the most of the extra time it gave him to write and hone in on his music.

“It was quite a long process from the first demo sessions to now. It was made a little more complicated by the pandemic, but that gave me the opportunity to write more, so it wasn’t all negative,” he explains.

“I started the first demos when I was living in Montreal and Berlin and continued when I returned to Melbourne. The majority of the recording sessions were done between lockdowns. I have endless respect for anyone that wrote or released music over the last few years. It really made the whole process a lot more difficult.”

With a sense of gratitude from O’Dowd, as this marks the long-awaited first release from the record, ‘One Lover Leaves’ arrives alongside a video clip which brings life to the verses. Shot by Mike O’Dowd and Emily Conrad, the black and white footage, featuring a O’Dowd on guitar and home-video like footage of a woman, captures the mood of the song quite effectively.

With a lush atmosphere, emotional lyrics, and O’Dowd’s vocals to navigate us, it’s easy to lose yourself in the intimacy of this release.

Listen to ‘One Lover Leaves’ here and keep up with the latest from Mike O’Dowd here

This article was made in partnership with Mike O’Dowd.