This singer songwriter somewhat confusingly states that his album is "inherently biographical and not".
I'm hoping that the lines "I am the anus of Jesus, I am the cock of Christ" falls in the 'NOT' category.
These bizarre boasts come in the opening track Settle Down which is rich with further expletives and blasphemies and, if nothing else, grabs the listener's attention.
This is broadly conceived as a concept album, with the singer being the chief subject of songs. Owen describes the record as charting "the course of the regressive self from incipient euphoria to wilted self acceptance". If, at this point, you are thinking 'egocentric vanity project', then you're not far wrong.
However, when he's not trying too hard to shock there is more than enough to engage and empathize with.
Owen never shies away from admitting feelings of vulnerability in exploring his queer identity and to compensate for the raptus of the opening song, Velvet Petals impresses with the genuinely plaintive vocals delivered over a looping guitar refrain. The breathy melancholy of Homme Fatale is another stand out.
The production values are very basic and many songs appear to have been recorded live. On these the insistent babble of conversation from an inattentive audience eloquently illustrates the plight of quiet, introspective folk artists.
No wonder then that self doubt casts a shadow over the album as a whole: "I sing in the first person singular but I don't know who I'm singing to" he reflects on the title track.
A list of influences including Nick Drake, Elliot Smith, Six Organs Of Admittance and Sufjan Stevens shows that Owen has solid musical taste although it would take a generous listener to pretend that he sounds as polished as any of these artists.
Still, despite the obvious flaws, this is an ambitious and atmospheric debut that shows real promise.
William Patrick Owen's website