Last week a mystery song was uploaded on Soundcloud: “Ocean” by anonymous artist called Pilgrims’ Dream. It sounds like a complete band playing, but it is actually a one man project by singer-songwriter Rob Ouseley. This is his story about he had to put aside his singing due to throat problems, but is now back stronger than ever, with a voice like an angel choir.
Singer-songwriter Rob Ouseley grew up in London listening to 60s music, especially the Beatles. He sites the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” as one of his favourite albums. He is a classically trained singer and started performing at a very young age. He performed in operas at Royal Opera House and the English National Opera as a child.
“At school I was in close harmony singing groups and bands, and I started playing guitar. Later on I was in a ten piece folk band called Captain Kick and the Cowboy Ramblers in the early days of the ‘West London Folk Scene’ (2005-2006), before going to University.” (Captain Kick and the Cowboy Ramblers are known for having Mumford & Sons’ banjoist Winston Marshall as a member and for the funny cult song “Bitchfuckit“.)
His main influences are indiefolk and 60s music. “But I love contemporary stuff as well, like Mumford & Sons, Bear’s Den, The War on Drugs, Bon Iver, Frank Ocean, Sufjan Stevens, Daft Punk, The National…”
“My discovery of the album “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys had a huge influence on my musical development and opened my ears to the range of possibilities within music.”
After university Ouseley joined the Royal Marines Commando’s for 4 years, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan 2012-2013. “But I carried on writing music and playing guitar. I left the Marines in 2015 to play music full-time. Unfortunately I got ill and had a lot of throat problems which meant I couldn’t sing for nearly 2 years.” But Rob didn’t waste time waiting. He began learning how to use recording software and started to develop songs without vocals. “As my health has slowly improved over the last 6 months, my singing voice is back, and I am now adding vocals to songs.”
When you listen to his debut song “Ocean” it is hard to believe it’s only one person. Not only because of the wide range of instruments, but mainly due to the multi-layered vocals which sound so incredibly harmonious. But Ouseley records all the vocals and instruments himself at home. He is a one man angel choir! “Ocean” reminds us of 60s sunshine pop, but you can clearly hear his folk influences as well. The song has such a natural flow; it seems like it took Ouseley on it’s waves and told him to bring it ashore. The lyrics are both literal and metaphorical: they are about being overwhelmed by various burdens in life (“feels like the ocean drives us down”).
Today Rob uploaded another beautiful song featuring his heavenly vocals:
Ousely will be releasing more songs, and then wants to start performing live. “I am gonna start playing live, initially just me and guitar, but building up with a band hopefully quite soon.”