Owen (Polyvinyl Records)
By: Alex Steininger
Mike Kinsella's debut solo album, recorded under the name Owen, is a nine track album of glowing beauty; an album rich in both melody and songwriting, beaming with the intimacy of the best acoustic records. But it is also elaborate, while still remaining stripped down and simple.
Kinsella's voice is that of a ghost and an angel, a soft, dark whisper that is warm and friendly, while retaining a distant, confused edge that gives it personality. The songs move without force, floating in mid air while you absorb them, briefly brushing you fluttering drums and bass, but fading back to Kinsella and his acoustic guitar.
Compared to the easiest troubadour to name check, Elliott Smith, Kinsella's solo album is nothing like that of Smith's. Instead of mixing weepy lyrics with melancholy melodies, Kinsella prefers to create spacious, comforting beats that hint at a happy day to come, just slight obscured by clouds. And his lyrics, though they don't have the flair of Smith's, are both subtle and subduing, worth listening to and remembering.
Kinsella's first crack at a solo album is beautiful. Laid-back, finely polished, with enough dirt under the nails and rough edges to keep the poignancy alive and well, Owen is a hit. It will melt your soul and have you fall madly in love with both Kinsella and the album. I'll give it an A+. 15