OLIVIA DEAN Gears Up For 2024 ‘Messy’ Tour

Published on 16 September 2023 at 12:07

Words: Heather Collier


With warmer evenings now drawing to a close, I can’t help but look back on the albums that were the soundtrack to my summer, most of which I’ve come to realise, was Olivia Dean’s ‘Messy’.


Kickstarting her career as a backing vocalist for Rudimental, Dean was able to release herself from the shackles of the Brit School Brat trope, proving her talent and commitment at the tender age of 17. Pinpointing her musical influences and staying true to her roots, she quickly decided to follow her own path and make a name for herself as a budding solo artist. 


After collaborating with the likes of Leon Bridges, Loyle Carner, and receiving a star-studded seal of approval from none other than Sir Elton John, Dean has now delivered a deliciously sweet, fruitful debut.

Since announcing her forthcoming 2024 tour back in June, the Mercury Prize-nominated pop-soul singer has added a further eight shows to the run, including three in the UK and five across mainland Europe. 


In the first week of its release, her debut studio album entered the UK Albums Chart at no. 4, followed by a whirlwind festival season and a fiery hometown show at All Points East. Dean continues to light up each stage with an infectious smile and hypnotic energy; her vocals flowing through her with elegance and grace.


‘Messy’ is an overgrown garden of wildflowers; each one blooming into its own delicate, unique story. This is a record full of heart; one that has a real magic to it. Each track is a visceral, vibrant portrait, leaving you wrapped up in the paper-warmth of her childhood, London romances, and the uncertainty of being young and in love. Dean harnesses her own personal links to jazz, neo-soul, reggae, ska, and gospel music, with whispers of Lauryn Hill and Ella Fitzgerald peppered throughout.


The opening track, however, immediately asserts itself as a separate entity, distinguishing itself from the rest of the album as the standout single. UFO is truly out of this world with its warped, extra-terrestrial synths, starry-eyed guitar and exaggerated autotune. Dean pleads: "I can’t hold your hand with my fingers crossed" as she submits to her emotions, knowing full well that she can’t fight them much longer.


No Man’s old Hollywood glamour and silver screen strings reveal a raspier, more mature side to Dean that hasn’t really been heard before – one that imagines her sauntering through the smoky haze of a 50s jazz lounge. Dive has a chorus deserving of a Sunday choir, whilst Danger demands to be danced to on a hot terrace in mid-July.


The final track offers a touching, yet bittersweet tribute to Dean’s late grandmother, Carmen, which begins with a recording of her voice as she recalls her first journey on a plane from her home country of Guyana to the UK.


"You’re stronger than I’ll ever be / Never got a jubilee / I’ll throw it for you, Carmen" Dean sings, shedding light on the sacrifices made by her grandmother and her deep gratitude for the Windrush generation. Told through a fragile and loving vocal, Carmen is a celebration of two cultures coming together – an outpouring of love and pride for her ancestry.


There are some minor stumbles and weaker moments, specifically Dangerously Easy which feels a little disjointed, and Everybody’s Crazy, which although well-intentioned, runs the risk of spilling into the vat of the mental health anthem cliché, oddly paired with a haunting piano that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Bond theme. Although Dean appears to lose grip on a succinct sense of style, perhaps this is what lies at the very core of what it is to be ‘Messy’.


A hopeful debut, ‘Messy’ is an endearing snapshot of a young woman coming out of her shell in music, love, and life itself. A woman who is no longer afraid to take up space, and slowly but surely, discover who she is.


Tickets for Olivia Dean’s UK/EU Tour are on sale now.


Thursday 25 – Glasgow, SWG3 Galvanizers
Friday 26 – Leeds, Stylus
Saturday 27 – Manchester, Albert Hall
Monday 29 – Birmingham, O2 Institute
Tuesday 30 – Bristol, O2 Academy


Thursday 2 – London, Eventim Apollo
Friday 11 – Brussels, Ancienne Belgique
Sunday 13 – Amsterdam, Paradiso
Thursday 16 – Cologne, Stadhalle
Friday 17 – Berlin, Tempodrom
Sunday 18 – Hamburg, Docks


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