If you look hard enough, there’s always a story to be found within Laney and Brian Gililland’s songs. The husband-wife duo behind O Fidelis has a deepseated love of storytelling, following a long lineage of traditional folk songwriters with the same proclivity for narrative-driven music.
Yet, while it shares thematic elements with a genre that’s historically taken a more traditional, unadorned approach to songwriting, the local act possesses an equally pressing desire to deviate from the norm. This perpetual state of evolution has spawned a series of transitions; from a stripped-down, six-song demo to the more fleshed-out sounds of its self-titled debut EP, the creative process that drives O Fidelis now seems to have come full circle.
“Once the EP was done, we added more members and it started getting a little more of a rock element,” vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Brian Gililland said. “So now we’re in the third stage of everything, which has basically gone back to the basics. We still have a full band that we play with, but we’ve gone back to playing the majority of our shows just the two of us.”
The Gilillands have been at work on their first full-length album since the EP’s release over a year ago. New song ideas continue to arise, however, and the volume of material has grown so abundant that there likely will be enough for another EP — or possibly a second album — to be released around the same time.
As you’d expect to be the case for a young, evolving band, its newest songs — those written post-album — sound marginally different than its endearingly quaint early output.
“The [new album’s] tone is very fun and whimsical; there’s kind of a youthful element to it,” Gililland said. “This next stage is almost like the kids kind of grew up a little bit. We always want to keep that fun and happy element, but the complexity of the songs has definitely gone up a notch.”
The Gilillands’ musical palette is far-reaching; Brian, in particular, is fond of film scores — an interest that would culminate in the band’s own foray into scoring — as well as traditional European and Celtic music. And as the two continue to refine their craft, the grandiosity of cinema and the diversity of world music becomes all the more palpable in their sound.
Like any healthy relationship (musical or otherwise), the couple has its share of creative differences. Yet his affinity for lavish instrumentation and her fondness of unvarnished beauty don’t inhabit opposite poles like one might expect. Instead, this push-pull effect has bred a confluence of sounds; therefore, the creative endurance necessary to evolve.
“It causes a lot of fights,” he said with a laugh. “To be completely honest, sometimes it doesn’t work and other times, it’s really fluid. It just depends on the time of day, I guess.”
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