Today’s Song: Oli Hannaford Keeps Breathing with “Lily”

Oli Hannaford
RIYL: James Blake, Chet Faker, Astronomyy

Have you ever felt as though you were endlessly searching for satisfaction; the elusive (or perhaps nonexistent) answers to a barrage of questions swimming within your mind, as you haplessly navigate this world in which we live? Seeking solace in solutions to calm your rampant mind, it is imperative to constantly remind yourself to just breathe. It can be tricky, but there will inevitably always be light at the end of the tunnel.

Listen: “Lily” – Oli Hannaford


Devon-based electro-pop newcomer Oli Hannaford deals directly with this sentiment in his latest track, “Lily,” as he tries to navigate the struggles and fears weighing on his mind. “Lily” seeks out the elusive solace, maintaining a relative positivity that makes this pursuit all the more empowering. Hannaford himself explains the track as “…taking the struggle and turning it into a positive thing, broadening your mind set a little, but always giving yourself just enough breathing space.” It is imperative to remain idealistic, regardless of how staunchly the self-doubt and negativity may bring you down.

Brace yourself for tidal wave
I’m gonna swim ’til I find myself a shadow

With sounds reminiscent of electro-pop heavyweights James Blake and Chet Faker, Hannaford and “Lily” successfully manage to harbor a sanguine harmony, seamlessly bringing together silky smooth vocals, beatific instrumentals, and inspirative lyricism. “Lily” is an acknowledgment that there is no struggle too difficult to overcome. Like Dory tells us in Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming.”

Oli Hannaford's "Lily" track art

“Lily” track art

The track, released on May 27th, finds Hannaford crooning about willingly jumping into the unknown; swimming through a sea of potential self-doubt while still attempting to remain optimistic. “Lily,” with its dreamy and quixotic backing track and Hannaford’s full-bodied and intoxicating vocals, is a persistent reminder that while swimming through struggle, we can find a way to “breathe above water.”

As the song continues, Hannaford later encourages others to join in this pursuit of happiness, saying, “You’ll want to breathe life, and see through your own eyes…” It is a ubiquitous endeavor, this jump into the unknown, and Hannaford goads others in reminding them that they are not alone in their strife. To tackle risks, to dive into the unknown; this is what makes us stronger. This is what helps us grow. This is what makes us better.

What did you do when you last took a dive into the unknown?
Was there a risk or were the outcomes the ones you did know?

This life that we live can all too often become diluted with incessant worries and fears, and self-doubt can all too easily seep into our psyche. We lose sight of our goals, our dreams and, too often, our whole selves. We fail to acknowledge struggle as a part of this life that we are given, asking, “why does this happen to me?” rather than, “what can I do to improve?

“Lily” ultimately succeeds in being a glimmering indie gem, as its bouncy guitar riffed, steel drum infused, electro-pop sounds blend effortlessly with Hannaford’s distinct, baritone vocals. The track warmly embraces struggle; it serves as a reminder that everything will inevitably be okay in the end. It may be a terrifying thought, to allow this struggle into your life, but in the end it will always work out — just remember to breathe.

Oli Hannaford
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“Lily” – Oli Hannaford

Brace yourself for tidal wave
I’m gonna swim till I find myself a shadow
I’m gonna swim till I find myself a patch of cold water
And I want to breathe life
I want to breathe life
And see through your eyes

And and and and breathe, and save five minutes
Breathe, and survive with you
Breathe above water
Breathe and save five minutes

What did you do when you last took a dive into the unknown?
Was there a risk or were the outcomes the ones you did know?
I want to breathe life
I want to breathe life
And see through your eyes

Breathe, and save five minutes
Breathe, breathe and survive with you
Breathe above water
Breathe, and save five minutes

Take them downtown, I’ll take them down
Take them downtown, I’ll take them down
Take them downtown, I’ll take them downtown

You want to breathe life
You want to breathe life
And see through own eyes
Breathe, and save five minutes
Breathe, breathe and survive with you
Breathe above water
Breathe, and save five minutes

Maggie McHale

Maggie is the Chief Music Director for Atwood Magazine, currently living in Philadelphia. She also works as a Digital Marketer for Fame House, a Philly-based Universal Music Group subsidiary. She is heavily involved in the arts and music scene in the City of Brotherly Love, often enjoying (and even preferring) going to concerts and museums alone; just generally loving and exploring the city that she calls home. A self-proclaimed “hug enthusiast” and dog lover, Maggie also enjoys fashion, travel, the paranormal, and drinking way too much coffee. In addition to writing for Atwood, she freelances and contributes to JUMP Magazine. (Fun fact-She also once slow-danced with Boyz II Men in Las Vegas.)