Review Summary: Kinsella proves that spending his mornings watching cartoons with the family doesn't mean he can't wallow in beautiful sadness anymore.L'Ami du Peuple
is a triumphant proclamation of twelve years well done, and yet, Owen expresses no intention of retiring. It's been twenty-four years since Mike first made his venture into professional music and twelve since he started Owen, but the man has been restless ever since, settling for nothing but who he is then and there and how this shapes his various projects and records. But he now lives a humble suburban life with his wife, two kids and dog Oscar, and it seems that Kinsella's life and his music have settled into a sweet spot.
Indeed, his sound may not be evolving, but with L'Ami du Peuple
, Kinsella proves that he will still not keep to constraints. L'Ami
is hence a record in which Kinsella is confident and content with the fundamental sound of Owen (heartbreaking vocals, light melodies and arpeggios to boot), enough so to apply a variety of stylistic embellishments while L'Ami
still remains an Owen album. Each song is uniquely defined by original characteristics, like the country accentuation of "Bad Blood," pounding drums of "I Got High," the string-infused builds of "Who Cares," and the strange pitch collection of the ragtime piano on "Where Do I Begin?". Not only that, but the single weird, hopping piano that enters "Where Do I Begin?" evolving into the perfectly placed, essential element of closer "Vivid Dreams"--obviously an evolved extension of its preceding track--neatly ties together the album with a definition of what L'Ami
is as a record: Kinsella takes all these foreign instruments and shapes them into essential cogs in each of the record's ten songs.
Make no mistake, however, this is not some new, experimental venture: L'Ami du Peuple
is another run of Owen songs. Not that that is, or probably ever will be, a bad thing. With every song of the mere forty minutes of L'Ami
, Kinsella reaffirms the strength of his sound but doesn't let this swallow his compositions or take away his edge: not only that, but despite his newly diversified pallet of pianos and blips and weird genre incorporations, L'Ami
is easily the most cohesive, most focused, and most memorable of his works since At Home
. It's an overwhelming combination which effectively renews Kinsella's claim to the throne of acoustic music.