Review: Kelly Lee Owens’ Emotional Electro-Bliss & Tender Minimalist Techno In ‘Inner Song’

Kelly Lee Owens | Inner Song | Smalltown Supersound

Release Date: August 28th, 2020

With the first album, I was so obsessed with getting the right sound straightaway, which hindered the flow of ideas…This time around, I let go of my perfection in the initial moment for the ideas to fully flourish and become what they want to be.

When it comes to American producer and singer-songwriter Kelly Lee Owens, one of the most noticeable aspects of the charismatic artist’s work is the manner in which her distinctive take on her craft allows us an authentic insight into her psyche; a genuine connection in which she relays her personality, her journey through life and subsequent experiences in the artistic realm that truly allow for a sense of connection with her audience.

Her unique take on club cuts, shimmering as intricately crafted minimalist techno and ethereal, dreamlike pop manages to carry with it an engaging, and wonderfully kind sense of relatability in her sound. In her second and latest album ‘Inner Song’ released via Smalltown Supersound – we see Owens express some of the most personal aspects of her emotional struggles, along with her connection to nature; with the title borrowed from free-jazz musician Alan Silva’s 1972 album of the same name.

(Inner Sound comes out of) the hardest three years of my life…(which) definitely impacted my creative life and everything I’d worked for up to that point. I wasn’t sure if I could make anything anymore, and it took quite a lot of courage to get to a point where I could make something again…

Those two words really reflect what it was like to make this record. I did a lot of inner work in the past few years, and this is a true reflection of that.

As ‘Inner Song’ makes its entrance, one may be surprised to find the opening track to be ‘Arpeggi’ – a cover of the beloved song by Radiohead; Owens describes:

“To me, it sounds like rising out of something quite bleak and hopeless, and resurfacing—a comeback from where I was.”

This tone immediately sets her intention and with the tracks that follow; her evolution as an artist is made quite clear not only through the impeccable production of the tracks themselves, but the ways in which they so effortlessly seem to work in tandem with one another as Owens blends the tranquility of her prowess in minimalist techno with the gentle ebb and flow of highly atmospheric, ethereal pop.

On’, ‘Re-Wild’ and ‘L.I.N.E’ are examples of elegantly engaging tracks rich with emotion, an exploration of Owens’ dream-pop prowess shimmering with introspection in their compassionate melodies, with layers of electronic harmonies and the artist’s instantly recognisable tender vocals.

Tracks such as ‘Melt!’, ‘Jeanette’ and ‘Flow’ showcase the producer’s distinct take on club-focused techno cuts, with her use of intricate percussion, self-assured beats and a mainly instrumental approach showcasing her willingness to experiment with a variety of textural electronics which assist in the tracks overall uniqueness – a difficult feat in a genre that can easily become oversaturated with repetitiveness.

Each track is a loving companion to the next, regardless of the genre-bending elements she has chosen to use: whether it be the blend of driven, electro-bliss techno beats that have been woven ever so delicately, or the honeyed dream-pop bliss working with focused, intricate percussion and the surreal layers of captivating, hypnotic and experimental timbres.

Inner Song’ glitters delicately with introspection, melancholia, nostalgia and skill: with the soundscapes Owens’ has crafted rich with lavish washes of synthesizer bliss, bubbling extraterrestrial textures, angelic reverb-drenched vocals and with the personal exploration of the self shining through so brightly – ‘Inner Song’ is a wonderfully authentic, and impressive offering from Owens.

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Rating: 8.5 / 10

Feature Image: Kelly Lee Owens by Sarah Stedeford