All of us here, we have one thing in common: we love heartbreak, and we’re consistently conflicted. We watch Titanic and scream for Rose not to let Jack’s hand go. We hold our breath for Dean and Cynthia in Blue Valentine, even though in the back of our minds, we want to see them crash and burn. We prowl around on Facebook like animals under the cover of darkness, searching for the latest busted relationship. We’re in love with broken love, because we can all relate to it in some way, shape, or form. I don’t care if you’re married. I don’t care if you’re single. I don’t care what your relationship status is on a scale of one to ten – you hear a heartbreaker come on the radio, and you’re hooked. Owen Thomas did us all a great service last year with his first solo release since the demise of his phenomenal rock band, The Elms. This man has been through the hellfire in his relationship – and he wins the award for the most vulnerable, heart-on-your-sleeve record of the year. I wouldn’t have wished this dark place on him, but all the same, if we got this record out of it all, maybe somehow…it was worth it. Like Stereophonics said, “you gotta go there to come back”.
There is not even a hint of a commercial push on these tracks. What we have is a songwriter with a broken heart, who sat down and wrote exactly what he was feeling. However, unlike Jack White, Owen has a sense of hope and purpose, and doesn’t let bitterness play its final hand. This doesn’t rock like The Elms – most of these tracks fall somewhere in the middle of a ballad and a pop-rocker, with a full dose of the Midwest thrown in, and even a touch of lo-fi production. This is completely acceptable; he fits this style well. However, that isn’t to say the musical energy isn’t there. Leading off with Houdini and I Don’t Miss Carin’, this man certainly knows how to write a catchy pop tune, as he’s proven time and time again. Great as the music is, the lyrics here are the clear star and are absolutely undeniable, chronicling the various emotions that the demise of his relationship has taken him through. If you’re looking for the heartbreak ballads, look no further than the standouts of Factors or Take It Easy, Demons – or the absolute humbleness (and desperation) of Tremble. His wordplay is fantastic, and while these songs are heart-wrenching, they’re without a doubt beautiful. If you like your artists transparent, you’ll want for nothing further.
If you had to listen to two tracks: You couldn’t do it; you’d end up listening to all of them, as you should.