Gary Owens “I Have Some Thoughts”

Perpetual Doom, 2023

Delightful album combines retro country sounds with modern sensibilities.

‘I Have Some Thoughts’ is the latest album from Greg Olin.  Olin usually records under the name ‘Graves’ but for this record he has chosen a new name, Gary Owens. But while his name may have changed, his sound remains the same. Whether in a group or solo, Olin’s work is spare, relying on simple instrumentation and vocals to create a nostalgic sound. This album fits well with his previous work.

Olin’s been putting out a regular stream of albums for close to twenty years. He has played with bands York Roberts and The Graves and a variety of musicians including Lindsay Schief, one of the founding members of Lake with whom he recorded ‘Solid Home Life’.

This time out Olin brought in a cross section of west coast musical talent;  Nick Aives (Sonny & the Sunsets, Ty Segall, Vetiver), Cory Gray (Delines, Dandy Warhols, Old Unconscious) Rusty Miller (Sonny & The Sunsets, Kelly Stoltz) and Jason Cirimele (Sugar Candy Mountain, Guantanamo Baywatch).  The result has a feel of country songs played on AM radio in the 50’s and 60’s.  The orchestration is also a great match for Olin’s quirky lyrics. He writes about both the big issues and the minutia of daily life with insight and a sense of humour; mixing the profound with the mundane.

Many of the songs are about love. ‘Atchee Ketchee’ playfully recognizes the challenge of finding the right words, “But I’m trying to find the words to tell you how I feel. And that I love, And that I’m your man, So I’ll try one more time here and put it to words, try to serve it well and not embarrass you, myself, or the dog.” A number of the songs deal with deteriorating and lost love. ‘Puzzle Song’ addresses both the pain and the mundane of breaking up, “I’d like to write a line about the dishes, But there ain’t no dishes, In the sink for washing since you’ve gone away, That ain’t to say I ain’t been eating, But lord knows I’ve been drinking, My meals every morning And all through the day…”

But Olin doesn’t just write songs about the classic country themes. ‘Sugar’ addresses just what the title suggests; the pleasure and the pain involved with having a sweet tooth. ‘Direct Light Sun’ reminds us all of the challenges of being a couple, “So please forgive me for those things I’ve not yet done Like move your favorite plant into direct light sun, Shrink your sweater and spoil any chance of fun And I’m on your shit-list Before the honey-do list begun.”

Olin has managed to carve out a place for himself in the Americana world.  He matches tunes that evoke another time with clever lyrics that are about today in a style all his own. The results are songs that one could listen to sipping a bit of Old Grand-dad from a crazed ceramic mug, occasionally shedding a tear and just as often cracking a smile.

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About Michael Macy 46 Articles
Grew up in the American Midwest and bounced around a bit until settling in London. Wherever I've been, whatever I have done, has been to sound of Americana. It is a real privilege to be part of this site, discover new music and write about it.
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