Coming very much from the acoustic folk tradition, Are You Okay? blends the hallmarks of two of the genres biggest successes. There is something in the song’s minimalist beat and of course the gentle harmonica washes, that reminds us of a smoother and more delicate take on His Bobness…The Zimmerman… that’s Mr Dylan to you. Also the deft touches and the space in the song tips its hat to Simon and Garfunkel’s balladic brilliance. It skirts through the vicinity of a number of other reference points, such as Ryan Adams iconic debut, Heartbreaker, but remains more of an urban, underground coffee shop sound rather than that of a rural, country approach, or perhaps the bridge between the two worlds.
There is something compelling in its delivery, an inherent anticipation caused by the minimal content, there is a power in the way that the words have space to hang and fade, the way that the music washes away between the beat and the clever change of pace in the middle eight.
There is a lot to like here. Mark Schirmacher may be working with age old musical materials, there is after all little new under the sun, but he still manages to put his songs together in a way that offers new and interesting prospects and potential. We have all heard music like this before, yet you have never heard music quite like this before. Now that’s clever.