Owen
The Avalanche


3.5
great

Review

by Colton USER (6 Reviews)
June 20th, 2020 | 47 replies


Release Date: 06/19/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Occasionally boring but mostly gorgeous.

Owen’s music has largely been defined by a few elements. Dense yet instantly catchy guitar melodies, beautiful harmonies and vulnerable, honest lyrics. He has definitely found a formula for his songwriting, but because his songs are so lush and often have so many moving parts, they sound anything but formulaic. And his remarkable skill as a guitarist makes a lot of his solo efforts sound truly unique. On his last album however, he followed that same formula but lost his ability to craft those memorable melodies. The songs were pleasantly atmospheric but just not as catchy, and for some reason he greatly simplified his usually excellent guitar playing.

Initially, The Avalanche remedies that by combining atmosphere with memorable melodies. It strikes a much better balance between the instrumentation that makes an Owen album an Owen album, and quality songwriting. Songs in the album’s first half feature gorgeous, layered arrangements, but they’re anchored by a persistent sense of structure. Opening track “A New Muse” begins with the line “dear lord, let me be anything but bored” which is fitting since that’s pretty much exactly what I thought going into this. The simple strummed chords are layered with simple but attention grabbing melodies, before the song gives way to a classic Owen fingerpicking pattern. It’s simultaneously grand and subdued, and that’s something the album maintains throughout its first half. The second track “Dead For Days” is another example of this, as it also has a classic Owen fingerpicking pattern, but the added strings make it feel complete and fleshed out. And “On With The Show” is one of the more immediate songs on here, with an arrangement that essentially just sounds like acoustic American Football. But when the melody and production are so strong, who’s really complaining about that?

Unfortunately, the album begins losing steam a bit halfway through. It maintains the same pleasant instrumentation from beginning to end, and it’s never anything less than pleasant, but the later songs seem lacking in structure, and are much more repetitive melodically than the earlier offerings. The songs start to blend together a bit and certain sections are somewhat bland. But even the least interesting songs musically are made interesting by Owen’s candid and clever lyrics, which are darker than they’ve ever been on this album. He describes his struggles with addiction, depression and self destructive tendencies with a striking level of detail and honesty. It’s a bit disarming given how peaceful the music itself usually is. I don’t know if it’s an intentional juxtaposition, or if these are just the only kinds of melodies he can write, but either way it makes the songs even more impactful somehow.

At the end of the day, The Avalanche is an Owen album through and through. It features beautiful arrangements and excellent, introspective lyrics, but also has a bit of a tendency to meander. Ultimately however, this is a strong collection of songs from one of the most consistent folk songwriters around.



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user ratings (64)
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
June 20th 2020


36239 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very nice first review. I agree with almost everything you wrote - the first half had me thinking it was going to be amazing, but by the end it faded into just being "good". 'Dead for Days' is breathtaking and my personal favorite from this.

Digging: ManDancing - The Good Sweat

luci
June 20th 2020


12527 Comments


a bit more interesting than his last few, he's forever stuck in 3.5 territory though since at home

the best owen album in the last decade is af2

Slex
June 20th 2020


10587 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

His corniness has reached critical mass on this one

Digging: Palm Reader - Sleepless

Colton
June 20th 2020


5238 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Sowing, and I agree Dead for Days is probably the highlight. Love the first three tracks though. And you prefer 2 over 3 luci? That’s interesting

hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
June 20th 2020


820 Comments


Nice write-up. I've always wanted to get into Owen, it seems like it should be right up my alley, but I haven't been hooked yet. Judging by the review this probably isn't the one to do it. The dark lyrics you describe are intriguing so I'll probably still check this out.

Digging: Jesu - Terminus

Colton
June 20th 2020


5238 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks, and you definitely should. Check out At Home With Owen or Ghost Town, both are great albums. Also thanks to whoever put this review at the top of the site, that's awesome

Relinquished
June 20th 2020


45708 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I’ll always like his works

Colton
June 20th 2020


5238 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I’m actually notably fast at tying my shoes. I use a type of knot called an Ian knot, which is the fastest shoelace knot in the world. Here’s a video on how to do one so you can learn too! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WgSwvDkJVxE

Colton
June 20th 2020


5238 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cute neg btw

JayEnder
June 20th 2020


8702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sad album. I hope Mike finds peace.

Colton
June 20th 2020


5238 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Worried about the guy honestly

dangerousdarrin
June 20th 2020


191 Comments


I love this guy. The way he adds full arrangements to his intricate acoustic guitar rules

Scoot
June 21st 2020


20260 Comments


second track absolutely slays, that riff is godly

Digging: Scarypoolparty - Doom Hologram

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2020


1871 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

no love for mom and dead? easily my fav on here

Digging: An Pierle and White Velvet - An Pierle and White Velvet

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2020


1871 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet review btw! mostly agreed, though i am a bit more forgiving of the slightly sub-par closing run

Colton
June 21st 2020


5238 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Mom and Dead is awesome. It's rare that a song makes me sad just from reading the title before I've even heard it yet.

Jots
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2020


7244 Comments


idk, the song title made me lol a bit. I smell a sitcom *bum-dunk-a-dunk-dn-dn

JayEnder
June 22nd 2020


8702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Christ lmao don't be mean Pots

butt.
June 22nd 2020


8045 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn this shit is beautiful, just listened to the whole thing 3 times in a row. The songs with "dead" in the title are the best, and the worst lyric by far is "I can't have my cake and fuck it too-oooo"

JayEnder
June 22nd 2020


8702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That line made me physically and mentally unstable because of how bad it was.



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