Southern California singer/songwriter David Ottestad’s music project, The Workday Release, is debuting a new album on April 16, 2021 via Enci Records. The album is titled Like the Light of Stars and contains eleven tracks. The LP’s single, “Say A Lot With Light” has already premiered on Youtube in the form of a music video directed and produced by Ottestad himself. Popular Youtube channel, In the Mix collaborated with Ottestad to showcase the mastering process for the video, which has racked up nearly 100,000 views. If you’re interested in the process of production, Ottestad says of his collab with In The Mix: “we’re looking forward to making more videos featuring the rest of the album to continue providing educational insight for the online music production community”.
The single, “Say a Lot With Light”, is a piano ballad about waiting for the right person before jumping into something serious. The music video focuses on Ottestad walking through a city with a clear backpack containing an orb of light. Light certainly seems to be a theme for this album—with other tracks titled “Sunlight” and “Going up in Flames”, as well as multiple references to light in the lyrics of many of the songs. Ottestad credits the title of the album to a lyric from the track “Every Voice I Hear is Mine” that says: I split in two, I am near and far, gone and coming too, like the light of stars. Honestly—it’s a little much. I really enjoy concept albums, but constant mentioning of light throughout the album in very different songs feels forced, as if the album is trying to have more substance than it does.
The tracks themselves are a mix of slow piano ballads and peppy guitar tunes. The instrumentals are enjoyable and Ottestad has a nice, calming voice. He’s reminiscent of Sam Smith and Lewis Capaldi (with a less powerful voice) in the piano tracks such as “You” and “The Future”. In the upbeat guitar-based songs like “I Do” and “Sunlight” he has more of a Train or Mumford and Sons vibe. There are two tracks on the album “Hospital Grounds” and “Keep out the Wolves” that are so folky they’re bordering on country, which feels odd in the context of the rest of the album. Other than that, the album does flow nicely and has an overall comforting, soothing sound.
Lyrically, Like the Light of the Stars is not great. The song topics are all over the place and conflicting (other than the recurrent theme of comparing everything to light). “You”, “I Do”, and “The Future” are all about being madly, deeply in love, while “Circles” is a regretful break-up song. Then there is the single “Say A Lot With Light” that is about waiting for the right person. “Sunlight” and “Six Feet from Defeat” are happy, hopeful songs about embracing life, while “Every Voice I Hear is Mine” and “Going up in Flames” are sad, reflective songs about how unfair life is. I’m not exactly sure what Ottestad thought he was doing with “Hospital Grounds”, but it sounds like he is singing from the perspective of dying person appreciating life: “fairness wasn’t promised but still I’m feeling I deserve more time […] sweet morning light, don’t pass me by, look what I found on hospital grounds”. That’s just cringey and frankly, I find it offensive. Please don’t try to use other people’s pain to get famous.
Overall, Like the Light of the Stars isn’t bad, but it isn’t good either. The instrumentals are pretty and Ottestad has a nice voice, but that’s all it is—nice. The songs flow well because they all sound vaguely the same and the lyrics are generic, trying to be deeper than they actually are. It sounds like Ottestad tried to write a song to appeal to every group of people instead of writing from his heart. Like the Light of the Stars is elevator music; good to listen to while studying, in a doctor’s office, or on hold with your phone company, but provides nothing memorable or of substance.