Review Summary: Honey Owens' second solo album is a lush and incredibly vibrant journey that sounds quite unlike anything else.
Between running a second-hand clothing store and a venue, running a record label and being a sometimes member of bands like Jackie-O Motherfucker
and Atlas Sound
, Portland musician Honey Owens somehow finds time to write and release music under her solo moniker Valet
. Naked Acid
is her second release following on from last year's Blood is Clean
and though it's not an entirely consistent record, it is certainly one of the most texturally gorgeous released this year. Spanning seven tracks, Naked Acid
delivers a trippy, ethereal journey through Owens' imagination and ultimately creates a unique, flowing and incredibly pretty release. The album is centred around Owens' interesting, unorthodox, almost bluesy guitar work and her lazy vocal style, with contributions from Adrian Orange (vocals on "We Went There") and Mark Evan Burden (drums on tracks 3-5).
Sonically, Naked Acid
is a difficult record to describe. It's generally quiet, but it sounds enormous and its full of sounds and textures that are basically unique to it. In terms of her guitar work, Owens spends most of the record noodling sloppily in fuzzy tones over sparse percussion and ambient noises. Vocally, she's just as a casual, warbling almost-understandable lines in a soft, pretty alto voice. Certainly, Naked Acid
is not a very rhythmic album; in fact most of the percussion seems like an afterthought. No, this is a record that chooses to focus on texture above all else and is resultantly a fascinating, relaxing and gorgeous listen.
Unfortunately, this approach does have its drawbacks, particularly in the songwriting department. Certainly the majority of the record is at least very good, but a couple of songs that are perhaps less texturally interesting such as "Fire" are pleasant but ultimately a little uninteresting. Naked Acid
is certainly not a 'songs' album, but as an 'album' album, there are a few moments that let the overall product down. Of course, there's plenty on the record to make up for it; the subtle, tingly percussion and vocal harmonies of "We Went There", the dense, haunting and lush atmosphere of "Drum Movie", the incredible spacey guitar tone and the soaked-in-reverb vocals of "Kehaar", the crazy trip of "Fuc
k It" and the remarkably organic drum loops of "Streets", just to name a few highlights. Ultimately this is a trippy, lush and beautiful release and the combination of Owens' gorgeous vocals with her excellent guitar work creates a sound that is truly singular. If Owens is able to iron out the minor creases present in Naked Acid
, her next release is sure to be nothing short of amazing.