Published Aug 25, 2020While many musicians have created works thematically based on their environment, it's almost always presented as a self-serving expedition, as artists tend to focus on their own experiences, perspectives and worldview. But what makes Inner Song so original stems from Kelly Lee Owens's ability to seemingly use ecological and geographical themes in a wholly objective manner, describing the natural world almost as a non-participant.
Written during what Owens has described as "the hardest three years of (her) life," the Welsh musician gives her sophomore LP an arm's length of coolness, at the same time fully letting go and allowing each track to move towards its own unprompted direction.
This distant/intimate theme is established immediately when it is revealed that Owens has opened her 10-track/50-minute LP with a cover "Arpeggi," the second half of 2007 track "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" by Radiohead— an a band for whom Kelly has professed a deep admiration.
The yin/yang of "On" sees a well-structured vocal ballad crash up against an adventurous techno second half that nearly falls of the rails, while the cavernous beats of "Melt!" curiously samples melting glaciers but also comes off like a some sort of party anthem. The dirge-like and pulsating "Corner of My Sky" celebrates Owen's Welsh heritage but uses spoken-word vocals from guest John Cale just to keep it one step removed from her own experiences, while the gorgeous trance track "Night" explores the energy brought on by nightfall while keeping a sleepy vibe.
In some ways, Inner Song resembles a Thomas Pynchon novel, conveying deep emotion without ever accounting for it — but Owen's second album is nonetheless a triumph of soundscapes, an album not meant to analyze and decipher but to daydream, sleepwalk and stargaze through. (Smalltown Supersound)