New Leaves, new Owen? A not so scholarly review

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Forget so soon about my notable album release post, did ya? Well the time’s finally here, and Owen doesn’t deserve that! The solo project of acclaimed indie singer/songwriter, Mike Kinsella, Owen has dropped its first new release since 2006. New Leaves has the same heartbreaking lyrics and brilliant acoustics we’ve become accustomed to from Kinsella, yet there’s a noticeable addition of multi-instrumental layering.

Sounds that may have been simple acoustic flourishes on previous Owen material become prominent electronic pieces on New Leaves, with an emphasis on keys and percussion. The electronica is most apparent on track 3, “A Trenchant Critique,” which combines a gorgeous string section to complement some driving, soothing percussion. And just when you’re thinking “A Trenchant Critique” is probably an anomaly and Kinsella is experimenting with Owen’s sound, the very next song, “Never Been Born,” gets all psychedelic on us with a strong synth section, leading into a spell of bells. It’s a wonderful track, and while still seemingly “slow,” demonstrates Owen’s new musical developments. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kinsella grouped these two songs together as to not shock people with the contrast of this material. Granted, the contrast is at a minimum. But when someone like Kinsella, who has an incredibly dedicated fan base, steps away from his comfort zone a bit, listeners could well be caught off guard.

Though, it’s imperative to embrace the changes here, because really, they’re not all that different. Kinsella’s brought just enough swagger to his musical step; what has maybe been missing from Owen material in the past is exactly what New Leaves contains, and nothing more. For someone who’s established himself as a preeminent figure in the indie folk scene, Kinsella has carved a niche for himself that even through all the changes, he’s still so familiar. And that’s a good thing, my friends.

Owen – “A Trenchant Critique” [MP3]

Owen – “The Only Child of Aergia” [MP3]

Purchase New Leaves

Owen on MySpace

1 comment to New Leaves, new Owen? A not so scholarly review

  • i’m sad that i never ever get to see Owen when he’s here at home! but this sounds so good, can’t wait to pick it up, no matter what you say about it. Though, i don’t think anything has been missing from his back catalog xoxo

    [Reply]

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