Owl John is the alias of Scott Hutchison, the songwriter, vocalist and all-round principle guy for Scottish indie rock band Frightened Rabbit. On his first solo record, he enlisted help from bandmate Andy Monaghan and friend Simon Liddel (Olympic Swimmers) in the production department, splitting his time between the Isle of Mull and the States in equal measure. Hutchsion sees the record as warm-up and inspiration for his band's next record.
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My hope was that this collection would be much more sparse, delicate and intimate than his better-known band (big stars stateside, so I hear) but to my slight disappointment it's a very similar kind of sweeping aesthetic happening here. When he does take things down to just a fingerpicked, reverby guitar, voice and subtle atmospherics, eventually giving way to robotic synth throbs and heartstring-tugging piano, on 'Ten Tons of Silence' it's certainly a highlight, and in a way this album seems like a missed opportunity to explore his relationship with said silence.
It's pretty and workmanlike and he's certainly not embarrassing himself, but most of the material here is fairly formulaic FR/Stornoway-ish Scotpop that doesn't really scale the heights of Hutchison's most famous project, but doesn't strip enough away from their aesthetic set itself apart as a particularly exciting project in its own right. To be fair to the lad though, it's apparently "warm up and inspiration" for the next FR effort so I shouldn't really hold the similarities against him.
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