If 2020 has forced each and every one of us into a state of involuntary inertia, it seems to have only pushed Kelly Lee Owens courageously outwards, as demonstrated by one of this year’s strongest releases Inner Song.
Where her eponymous debut showcased an array of techno-focused and ambient-infused tracks, Inner Song has looked further afield. Sure, the heavy urban grooves remain intact, though they have now been embraced by an abundance of new atmospheres and attitudes. What’s more, Owens has pushed her vocals to the fore, allowing the harmonies which previously floated dreamily as part of a general sound to flourish and, rightly, embrace centre stage.
The aforementioned versatility is exhibited proudly within the first three tracks. ‘Arpeggi’, a remix of Radiohead’s ‘Weird Fishes’, is a subtle instrumental of gentleness venturing into life through its introverted, sharp beats. ‘On’ follows with a delicate instrumental warmth and lyrical openness, anchored by beautifully tranquil synths that diffuse softly behind Owens’ headlining vocals, while ‘Melt!’ comes straight from the dance floor, spearheaded by descending melodies fluttering amongst a thumping percussive pulse.
Leading the line of artistic evolution, however, is found in the stunningly ethereal conflict of naturalism and industrialism in the John Cale accompanied ‘Corner Of My Sky’. Written about their Welsh homeland, Cale’s vocals are spoken with esteem and majestic grandeur in authoritative oversight of Owens’ spellbinding backing, portraying an environment of unease, revival and rejuvenation.
One would expect, in light of this year’s events preventing this, that the tracks of Inner Song played live would be an otherworldly, borderline supernatural, experience with the inroads Owens has made in incorporating new styles into her work. But for now, we only have our headphones to display Inner Song‘s illustrious multitude of sound that signposts the beginning of a redefinition of electronic music’s expanses and future horizons. Be it romanticism, abstraction or mindful realism, Inner Song holds it all, and has been a deserved recipient of critical acclaim this year.