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It’s rare to hear a debut album with as much promise and feeling as Olivia Rees’s “Exposed”. Each song on the album leaves you deeply moved and hungry for the next one, until you reach the end and hit “play” again. And then, again. There is something obsessive and haunting about “Exposed”, a certain nakedness of the soul that makes it hard (actually, nearly impossible) to only listen to it once.

The songs, although largely inspired by pain and various difficult or unpleasant emotions, take on this veil of stunning beauty that makes you smile in spite of the grim subject. Rees takes you into a journey to the heart of yourself and makes this into a highly personal listening experience.

A highly talented artist, Rees studies piano and guitar at a very young age, and has been pursuing her passion for years now, which is no doubt impressive, considering she is only 24 years old and already come out with one of the most powerful debuts of the year.

It’s with songs like “Trust Issues” that the album wins you over right away. As the title suggests, the song is a highly emotional journey into what it means to be betrayed and to feel abandoned. It’s about having your feelings cheated and learning to protect yourself, growing a “hard shell”, as some would say. The song is among the most powerful and most popular tracks on the album, resonating with a vast majority of listeners through its universally likable lyrics.

The same goes for songs like “Darker Night”, once again a song about abandonment, about losing the one person you thought would never leave you and having to learn to cope with the disappointment.

But “Exposed” is more than a one-trick-pony. It’s not all bitterness and melancholy, but rather a very versatile musical offering, at times happy as it is sad. Through songs like “Sugar and Spice”, Rees keeps it level. This is a more light-hearted tune about partying with friends and getting a break from stress. It’s a wondrous celebration of being and a much-needed break on such an emotionally charged album.

The album also sees Rees collaborating with Los Angeles rapper, Mr. D.M.A., who appears on two tracks – “Round 2” and “Fast When I’m Furious”. Although more heavy on the emotional side, these two also have a higher energy, and a highly addictive quality to them, which gives you strength, in a weird sort of way.

A phenomenal debut, one that marks Olivia Rees as a young artist of great promise, and definitely one to keep an eye on in the future.

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