Kelly Lee Owens’s Inner Song is laser focused and immersive | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Kelly Lee Owens’s Inner Song is laser focused and immersive 

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click to enlarge Kelly Lee Owens

Kelly Lee Owens

Kim Hiorthøy

Welsh producer Kelly Lee Owens begins her sophomore album, Inner Song (Smalltown Supersound), with an instrumental cover of Radiohead’s “Arpeggi.” Her version is all about effervescent electronics, and it can evoke the feeling of being underwater—isolated from the rest of the world with only your thoughts. When Owens’s vocals arrive on the following track, “On,” it sounds like she’s surfaced to announce a hard truth she’s discovered: “Can only love as deeply as you see yourself, and you don’t see me.” Her voice is tender but firm, floating elegantly alongside bubbling synth filigree, and as a harder-edged beat emerges, the confidence of her lyrics about moving on from a relationship seems to emanate from every kick and snare. Owens mixes up instrumental and vocal-driven songs throughout the album, and when she sings, her voice remains in lockstep with her production, which makes the tracks feel whole and direct: “Feel the power in me,” she declares on “Re-Wild,” as a lurching beat and heaving synth pads brush up against her swirling vocals. The instrumental cuts are just as mesmerizing: the downtempo swing of “Flow” recalls Boards of Canada, while “Jeanette” is all glitzy synth melodies over a straight-ahead beat. And on the moody atmospheric piece “Corner of My Sky,” Owens brings in guest vocalist John Cale, a fellow native of Wales. Throughout Inner Song, Owens is laser focused and always enchanting, and every song is an invitation to dance, ruminate, and find yourself in the rhythms.   v

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