Michael Owens’ debut solo album as Owensie last year marked a sea change from his known musical past of distorted guitar and heavy rock songs. Aliens, the debut in question, showcased finger plucked lilting guitar sounds soaked in candlelit folk and chiming classical guitar melodies set to a previously unknown falsetto.
With his second album Citizens, the lyrical concerns of the past are very much present. With a title suggesting a person less on the fringe but still dealing with the toil and trouble of every day life and society, it’s pleasing that the music is more expansive, a great deal sunnier, mixing the chiming riffs of before with a gentle sway that is reminiscent of latter era Beck and warm and lolloping alt-rock.
The album moves at a sprightlier pace featuring greater instrumentation and collaboration in the form of Lewis Hedigan (drums), Julia Mahon (saxophone, string arrangements), Andy Mooney (percussion), Dek Hynes (bass and keys) and Ailbhe Nic Oireachtaigh (viola). There’s also an appearance, like his Portugese turn on Bantum’s ‘Roll Part 2’ of Owens’ non-falsetto voice, which sounds a great deal like Richie Egan’s. A welcome surprise on a second album which furthers Owensie’s sound into more vibrant circles.