Sunday, 14 September 2014

Album Review - Owl John - Owl John

The ever-growing Frightened Rabbit fan-base eagerly awaited lead singer Scott Hutchison’s solo project ‘Owl John’.  The album was a chance for Hutchison to focus on something that wasn’t Frightened Rabbit for the first time in over a decade, leaving most of his fans questioning, ‘why did we have to wait so long?’

The themes of loneliness that can be found in Frightened Rabbit’s best work are nestled here, and when you realise that the album was recorded on the Isle of Mull it isn’t hard to work out why.  Secluded and away from the busy cities usually toured by bands is where Hutchison pens his best work, (Frightened Rabbit album The Winter of Mixed Drinks  was written in Crail).

This album starts in familiar territory as first track Cold Creeps  could easily pass for a Frightened Rabbit album track, which while the whole album has a dash of Frightened Rabbit running through it, this is the only song where that can be said.  Lead single Hate Music  is where we really get to see why Hutchison felt the need to start a solo project.  The song is as far from Frightened Rabbit as you could dare to imagine; harking back to early Queen of the Stone Age with some angry guitar and a bluesy rhythm.  Red Hand  presents a more traditional pop-rock song with a jangly riff reminiscent of R.E.M.  Songs such as Los Angeles Be Kind  and Stupid Boy  show us the softer side of Owl John's music and allow Hutchison’s lyrics to take centre stage.  “I’ll piss in public, I’ll shit the bed.  I need assistance just to live” from Stupid Boy  demonstrates that brutal honesty we have come to expect from Hutchison’s lyrics.

‘Different enough to have a reason to exist’ is how Hutchison described the album in his usual self-depreciating manner and, while it is much more than that, he does have a point.  While the album as a whole isn’t a complete departure from Frightened Rabbit musically, it is something that could have been needed for the sake of their future as a band.  This project has given Scott the chance to flex a musical muscle he wouldn’t have had the chance to with the band and now gives him the freedom to do exactly what he wants musically; and, if this album is anything to go by, he is more than capable of going on his own should he ever want to again.

- Stuart Thompson

Owl John - Owl John  is out now via Atlantic Records and is available in all good record stores or via all good online retailers.  You can purchase the album here.

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