Reviewed: Owl John – Owl John
Originally, Frightened Rabbit was the pseudonym under which Hutchison used to perform solo shows, those shows growing bigger and bigger, and ultimately creating the ironically monstrous force that Frabbit are today. Now, though, taking a break from Frabbit life, Hutchison is back on his own again as Owl John. Owl John, produced by Frabbit bandmate Andy Monaghan, suggests that this solitariness is something that Hutchison appears to truly enjoys, and perhaps needs, at times, but pitifully detests at others. In fact, throughout the Frabbit catalogue, loneliness and isolation is something that constantly crops up.
Unmistakably, every track Owl John offers would’ve fitted any Frabbit album, some tracks fitting The Winter of Mixed Drinks more, whilst others suit Pedestrian Verse. Having said that, though, there does seem to be something more personal (if possible) about this collection of songs, which is perhaps why Hutchison decided to release them on his own. This personal feel is perhaps, too, why he chose to record it on the Isle of Mull rather than his current habitat of LA, where he lives with his girlfriend.
Anyway, loneliness theories aside, as you’d expect, Owl John is fucking brilliant. ‘Hate Music’ stands in stark contrast to Sing the Greys’ ‘Music Now’, perhaps the heaviest and most cathartic of any of Hutchison’s work, suggesting his frustration and pessimism. ‘Songs About Roses’, arguably Owl John at his most basic yet most beautiful, further explores this sentiment of cynicism, as his vocals are accompanied by eery guitars and the quiet beat of a bass drum. Hutchison sorrowfully addresses his new home in ‘Los Angeles, Be Kind’, a track which may well indicate why he withdrew to Mull to complete the album. ‘A Good Reason to Grow Old’ arguably offers the album’s only note of positivity, as it grows gradually into a climactic, yet subtle, euphoria, Hutchison explores the feeling of love and prospective happiness, singing: “I was ready to drown in the afterlife, but not anymore – that I finally found a good reason to grow old.”
Listen to our session with Owl John here!