Kelly Lee Owens’ Colorful EP

This may be Kelly Lee Owens’ first EP but she is not brand, spanking new to the music scene. A young producer getting her proverbial musical “sea legs” on the ground, Owens shows great promise for her first release.

For Blurt Magazine:
Label: Smalltown Supersound
Release Date: October 21, 2016

Kelly Lee Owens fully steps into the electronic music fold with her brief yet hypnotic four track EP, Oleic. The Welsh producer has previously worked with other musicians-most notably appearing on fellow UK producer Daniel Avery’s 2013 album Drone Logic-and has since teased the world with tracks released online. Now amassing her songs for her own release, Oleic proves that Owens has a solid springboard from which to launch her musical career.

Repetition is the core of Owens’ sound as swirling effects and pulsating keys continually reverberate and echo, creating an entrancing environment. Unfortunately, not much variety exists in the four songs as the “four-to-the-floor” kick drum is the skeleton of each track. And having the same sonically alluring yet almost indiscernible line “dancing curtains of auroras” utilized in “Elliptic” and “CBM” does not aid in creating different atmospheres. Yet, this infraction is almost completely forgivable thanks to Oleic’s lush production.

With minimalist, down-tempo and bass-ladened dark sounds, Oleic drifts into the realm of deep house and oozes with sophisticated sexiness. The EP includes three original tracks and one reworking of Jenny Hval’s track “Kingsize.” To fully appreciate the depth of Owens’ rework you must listen to the original music-less, 2 minute, spoken word piece. Owens created an entire soundscape and sliced in selected moments Hval’s genteel voice which sounds like soft whispers. An almost lyric-less EP, when Owens does sing her vocals possess an alluring, ghost-like quality that rises unexpectedly and seeps in-between the music.

First single, “CBM,” which stands for “colors, beauty, motion,” is perhaps the best track on Oleic. Well-crafted mellow keys build from a stuttering intro of effects and for the last two minutes of the song, the sound effortlessly changes to bouncing keys that doesn’t lift from the soundscape but permeates just beneath the waves as all the other music slowly trails off leaving the subtle, kinetic effects to carry the track to the end.

Owens has illustrated variety in her previously released singles and displayed that she can weave an array of sounds (her remake of Aaliyah’s “More Than a Woman” is worth a listen). Her earlier material and the sonically rich construction on Oleic is a fine window into Owens’ future LP.

DOWNLOAD: “CBM,” “Kingsize

Listen to my favorite track on the EP, “CBM.”

Neneh Cherry Returns

For Blurt Magazine:

The eclectic singer’s last solo album was 1996’s Man but she has continued to make music and collaborate with other musicians sporadically throughout the years from Gorillaz to Kleerup to, most recently, fellow Swedes The Thing. (Read about that collaboration here.) Electronica runs through Blank Project and its creation involves several individuals who specialize in the genre: produced by Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet, it features collaborations with Robyn and duo RocketNumberNine.

The raw, mellow, hip-hop, electronic, jazz infused solo return of Neneh Cherry is an enjoyable ride; some songs are immediately addictive while others slowly become more appealing after several listens and sonic osmosis. A duet with fellow Swedish pop singer Robyn sounds promising in theory but “Out of the Black” is not the most enthralling number yet title track “Blank Project” is easily the strongest number with a heavy drum and bass that pulls you in, escalates the pulsating beats and induces dancing. The remaining splendor of Project rest in its sparse simplicity; songs such as opener “Across the Water,” or “422” quietly demonstrates this with very few instruments, only the occasional hand drum, organ and plucky as Cherry’s semi-raspy vocals carries each song.

The lyricism isn’t always profound; the strongest component to Blank Projectis the far from ordinary music. But there are moments when Cherry’s down to earth style proves vastly entertaining. In “Everything” Cherry maps a day that starts perfectly but slowly crumbles and she casually sings “a crack smoking hussy getting in my way too.”

Blank Project is equally unique, familiar and proves inviting in its soulful solidarity.

DOWNLOAD: “Everything,” “Blank Project”