Review Summary: The humbling sound of humanityOver the last decade there hasn't been anyone who has created music so depressingly beautiful and honest as Mike Kinsella has under the Owen moniker. His albums, such as 2006's wondrously crafted At Home With Owen, have always been an intricate amalgam of delicate guitar work and tactful platitudes that warm the hearth of the soul like coming home to a cup of chai in the dead of winter. Sometimes he can come across as a tad too self loathing – see New Leaves – but even then, Mike Kinsella's always direct delivery and nimble picking manage to keep his songs floating high above the waterline at all times.
Emo troubadour Mike Kinsella (best known for his work with bands like Cap’n Jazz and American Football) returns for the sixth installment of his solo project Owen with Ghost Town, a record that recalls the lyrical style of his earlier work as Owen while integrating new sonic elements into the mix. That is, where 2006’s At Home with Owen and 2009’s New Leaves took a more positive-minded perspective, reflecting on his then recent marriage and birth of his daughter, Ghost Town returns to his brooding roots, digging into the darker, more contemplative corners of his heart. And in contrast to his Owen past, Ghost Town introduces string instrumentation and folk-inspired arrangements on many of its tracks, immediately setting it apart from his previous solo efforts and lending a sound that’s fuller as well as more universal.
Mike Kinsella, better known to you as Owen, has had quite the fruitful music career. A one-man-band, Owen has a style reminiscent of a rowdy Iron & Wine, which is still quite maudlin and mellow. Written on the eve of the birth of his daughter, and thus forcing Kinsella to reflect on the tumultuous relationship he had with his own father, Ghost Town is slightly more elevated in atmosphere and instrumentation than earlier efforts, but is similar in vein to 2009’s New Leaves.