It’s revealing when a recording artist lays out what’s in their head and hearts, while taking up the challenge to write and record a collection of songs in a very short span of time for time. Novel writers do it in November I believed during the National Novel Writing Month in the U.S. For the singer/songwriter known as The Idle Owl, his challenge was to write and record songs for February Album Writing Month and then upload them to the sponsored website before the month was over. Those songs saw the light of day on his debut release After All These Adventures.
The themes on this album encompass a variety of issues, like the struggles of being inadequate at a job; sadness, love and having time for to do those things you want to do in life. The album was recorded using one microphone in the attic of his home in Sheffield, UK.
In the opening tune “Not Coming Back Again” he talks about walking home in the pouring rain – “I love the rain / it helps to numb the pain.” Musically, it sounds upbeat even though the lyrics may not be. I liked the line – “drinking cream soda underneath the pagoda” for simply using that word, pagoda. “Time” feels somewhat like a protest song in a way, “keep your filthy hands off / my time is mine / my time is mine.” We’d all like back our time to right our wrongs or whatever the case may be. Time is money after all. “The Bridge” seems to be about building a bridge to repair a broken relationship between two people – a very open and honest song.
“A Trip to the Supermarket” sings about going to the store for “chocolate, sweets and colorful treats” but with a twist. Idle Owl seems to also be singing about having a nervous breakdown or maybe it’s just about a person who is extremely confused. I really liked “Peach Cove” for its jumpy, light rhythm on the guitar and happy feeling. “The Snow” was another toe-tapping number. I felt that this song was about the lonely romantic. Idle Owl mentions a list of things, pastimes, food, drink – all the things that bring back a memory frozen in time – centered on a relationship, just a guess though.
The last song, “What to Say” is deeply introspective and naked – “I’m not sure the man I’ve become is the man I want to be.” He goes on to sing that when you try to help someone by saying something you think might fix things, but then it turns out it didn’t – “I guess I didn’t know what to say.”
After All These Adventures is without a doubt intensely personal but it’s not all sad. The happier guitar rhythms bring a nice balance to the anxiety and somber feeling within the lyrics. Any amount that an artist puts into their work that shows the world just how deep emotions can really get is a beautiful thing. That’s what makes good art, no matter what medium it’s in. So if you’re feeling a bit down, The Idle Owl may help you out – he’s been there too.
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