Words by Russell Carstens
Christopher Owens has been a stylistically diverse songwriter from his days as the frontman of Girls—and now he’s gone country on A New Testament. His fans shouldn’t be surprised or let this rattle them—it’s a fitting platform for Owens to flex his songwriting muscles, and an opportunity for some music fans to swallow their pride enough to admit they dig the genre. After all, I’ve heard people declare countless times, “I like all music…except country.”
Owens has dabbled in the genre in past songs such as “Broken Dreams Club” and scattershot moments throughout his debut solo LP Lysandre. Heck, there’s even a “What’s In My Bag?” episode on YouTube where Owens (still in Girls) purchases albums by Dwight Yoakam and Lyle Lovett, saying, “I’m trying to learn from songwriters.” There’s nothing wrong with doing your homework, because a good song is what people will remember decades from now—not rubbish like who used feedback on an album first. Within listening to mere seconds of A New Testament, it’s clear that Owens’ studies have paid off.
Sincerity is the name of the game with Owens. It can’t be faked. His songs and vocal delivery on A New Testament give off truthfulness and honesty on the same level as greats like Buddy Holly, Kurt Cobain, and Lou Barlow. Owens stated in a 2011 interview with New York Magazine that he strives to write timeless, memorable songs. Mission accomplished. With the independent scene now being self sufficient, Owens may never have a reason to strive as hard for recognition as independent artists had to in the past. However, mainstream music history must give him the credit he deserves when it looks back decades from now. To not would be a crime.
“Oh My Love” (known previously as a 2010 solo acoustic performance uploaded to YouTube by filmmaker Travis Mathews) is finally given the full studio treatment on A New Testament, and it’s beautiful. It simply doesn’t matter how blunt or downright sappy some of Owens’ lyrics may be on paper—he lays them on the listener with intensity so sincere that instead of laughing, you cry. This goes for every other song on the album, so there’s no reason to elaborate further on this review.
A New Testament is an instant classic and should immediately be given to The Songwriters Hall of Fame to consider Owens for induction. I don’t mean to gush, and wouldn’t say something like that haphazardly. It’s just the truth. As long as fans aren’t hung up on the possibility that 2009’s Album by Girls may be the only mixtape-sound-alike grab bag of genre-hopping surprises that Owens releases, they will be pleased with A New Testament. Get it. Fall in love with it. Then fall in love to it. Take a road trip with it. Whatever. Just appreciate it and tell like-minded music fans about it so that everyone can be touched by Owens’ songs.
‘A New Testament’
© September 30th, 2014
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