January 02, 2003

Owen "No Good For No one Now"

Things don't always work out. Sometimes you don't get the girl. Sometimes you don't get the job. Hey, it happens to the best of us. It's okay to be broken-hearted. It's okay to hurt. The secret to regaining your strength after a disappointment or hearbreak is to understand that it's okay to feel hurt or sad. It's okay to cry. It's okay to show emotion. It's part of the healing process. It's just how you deal with your emotions that matter. You can talk and talk and talk and talk about it, you can be bitter, or you can work on healing yourself. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, look at yourself, and try to figure out what happened--what went wrong, what did they do wrong, what did you do wrong, and it's from that point that true healing begins. Expressing yourself in an artistic manner is a rather excellent form of therapy. And that's not just some music journalist's opinion--that's historical, baby.

Mike "Hi I'm in a one-man band called Owen" Kinsella's had something happen to him, and listening to No Good for No One Now, I'm pretty sure it's heartbreak-related. But unlike many other folkie-types who sing songs about the one that got away, Kinsella actually seems to understand that lyrical content is only one aspect to making a great, sad song. The man's got a pretty varied, interesting, and experimental history, for sure--having been in Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc, and Owls, as well as leading his own group, American Football. So the overall sound of No Good for No One Now is really no surprise--and often, such as on "Everyone Feels Like You" and "Take Care of Yourself" there's as much focus on the music as there is on the words--which is good, too, because it makes the music a bit more memorable. Owen was good, but it suffered from a touch of monotony. With more focus on the music, No Good for No One Now is a more memorable record.

What makes Owen better than most "my girlfriend just left me" kind of music is that it's pretty obvious that he puts as much (if not more, perhaps?) time into the music as he does his lyrics. "Deceptively simple" seems to be the best definition of what Kinsella's made. On the surface, No Good for No One Now is your standard emo folk record, with sad, intelligent lyrics and such. Scratch the surface, though, and you're going to hear some mighty interesting music--jazzy, atmospheric folk music that's reminiscent of Joan of Arc and American Football. Ever heard a heavy metal guitar solo in the middle of a sadcore song? Just listen to "The Ghost of What Should Have Been" and you will. Pure Hesh, I tell you!

Kinsella seems heartbroken, but there's a shining ray of hope to be found here. Can't put my finger on it, but there's something in No Good for No One Now that says, "hey, it's really going to be okay. This is that hangover you have when you're left by someone that you didn't really love that much anyway. You feel like crap, but you know that it's for the best, and you're going to be better." No Good for No One Now is a great record for getting over it--and those mixtapes you want to make for your broken-hearted friends.

--Joseph Kyle

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