For the untrained ear Ojala is Spanish for God willing, which sums up the genesis of this album and it does have quite a backstory.
Lost Horizons consist of ex Cocteau Twins bassist and Bella Union boss , Simon Raymonde and Dif Juz drummer Richie Thomas. There’s a post rock pedigree here so there’s an inkling to what type of music you’ll be listening to on Ojalá. Moreover, to add that extra dimension the group roped in an array of guest singers that will make anyone drool. Marissa Nadler, Sharon Van Etten, Ghostpoet, Karen Peris (of The Innocence Mission), Tim Smith (of Midlake), Cameron Neal, Soffie Viemose (of Bella Union bands, Horse Thief and Lowly respectively) Leila Moss (The Duke Spirit) and the list goes on. It is impressive. Not to mention that this album was recorded during some worrisome times.
Generally a huge amount of guests on an album can render a record interesting but uneven. This is definitely not the case here. Each singer gives their particular song a unique touch but there’s a uniform sound running throughout Ojalá, which are mostly piano based with orchestral flourishes. As Raymonde and Thomas are pros at this type of sound, the album gives beautiful vibes without ever sounding fussy or overproduced. If you want to chuck in genres then think of a post rock album with a dash of dream pop (and there are a good number of dreamy moments) folky psychedelia and some soul (opener Bones remind me of something Kate Bush would do back in the early days)
Highlights? quite a few but my personal favourite track would be Reckless, with its pensive piano motif and rapper Ghostpoet eulogizing about the world. It’s spine tingling. Marissa Nadler’s guest appearances are amazing. Leila Moss gives a terrific vocal performance in Score the Sky and the Swirling She Led me Away was a sweet reminder of why I obsessively listened to Midlake’s The Trials of Van Occupanther so many years ago.
Maybe if I do have a complaint it is Ojalá’s length. it is a hefty 70 minutes and although the time passes pleasantly it’s a lot to digest in one sitting and you HAVE to stop everything in order to absorb this album properly, probably a double album would have been better but that’s just me as a person who listens mostly on commutes.
Ojalá took me by surprise. It dropped out of nowhere and, through many spins these songs grew on me. How such a hushed album can sound so powerful is a testament to the many talents involved in this project.