Sound — 5
Owen's latest release "At Home With Owen" has the spacey folk-pop acoustics of Bright Eyes and the alternative-country atmospheric of Adrienne Young and Kasey Chambers with shallots of bedroom-emo musings. Owen is the musical project of singer/guitarist Mike Kinsella. "At Home With Owen" is his fourth album under the flagship name Owen, following a self-titled debut album in 2001, and albums "No Good For No One Now" in 2002, and "I Do Perceive" in 2004, all released on Polyvinyl Records. The Chicago, Illinois denizen has an emo-folk style to his songwriting and playing. His latest release was recorded in his bedroom at this mom's house according to Kinsella on his website (owenmusic.com), and shows influences of all acoustic aspects of music from folk and rock to country, pop, and blues. The comely acoustic brush strokes on "Bad News" have a folk-pop frequency and a hushed percussive beating. The light tweaks of violin and piano segments linking with the acoustic guitar reels on "The Sad Waltzes of Pietro Crespi" enliven the tempo's rhythm. Kinsella's vocals move with the languid guitar strums and delicate beating on "Bags of Bones" and "Use Your Words." The acoustics of "A Bird in Hand" has a traditional folk roost while the light rhythmic pulses on "Window and Doorways" are complimented by a soft string arrangement. Kinsella's songwriting has a purity that produces a pacifying ambience. The alternative-country tones of "Femme Fatale" and "One of These Days" placate a dreamy-emo esthetics. The music is placid with cozy vineyards of delicate guitar strobes and light percussive flutters.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are personable and have a stream of consciousness musing, like having a conversation with oneself. Kinsella's lyrical phrases have an upfront meaning. He does not conceal his honesty or ornament it with poetic verses and abstract sentences. His lines have a face value, like the tracks "The Sad Waltzes of Pietro Crespi" when he sings, "Do you love someone completely/ And yes by someone I mean me/ Spoiled sick like milk you let it sit too long/ It's a simple question/ As I lie awake waiting for you to lay beside me/ I can almost hear the sad waltzes of Pietro Crespi."
Overall Impression — 6
Kinsella's songs have similarities to coffeehouse music and Husker Du folk performers. These are songs that are sung around the campfire, appreciated in communal gatherings and peaceful settings like one's bedroom. His acoustic arrangements are familiar to The Faint, Matt Kearney, and Portastatic. It's sedate and blase, relaxing and stress free. The clean acoustic lines have a natural flow and tranquil timbres that put the listeners to rest, listening to their own thoughts.