Owen: New Leaves

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Owen

Album: New Leaves
Label: Polyvinyl

Most fans of Rites Of Spring and/or Sunny Day Real Estate presumably have a difficult time accepting that subdued music could be considered emo, but there’s really no better way to describe Owen, the one-man project helmed by Mike Kinsella. The fact that Kinsella’s impressive CV includes seminal emo outfit Cap’n Jazz means that the tag isn’t coming out of nowhere, and really, how else do you describe a guy who has friends who “fuck like Wilde and indulge like Hemingway,” and who sings longingly about a tour that informed his enjoyment of warm beer and girls with tats? Performed mostly by Kinsella, Owen’s soundtrack is pretty, dreamy, and poignant—Mark Kozelek-esque, perhaps—perfectly complementing the emotional tales, and while his voice doesn’t keep up with the beauty, that struggle ends up giving even more weight to his words. New Leaves—Kinsella’s fifth full-length as Owen—was influenced by marriage and fatherhood, and even if he overindulges now and again (if his bones feel old in his early 30s, imagine how they’ll feel at 50), it proves that emo can grow up and still sound wonderfully relevant.