Kelly Lee Owens – Kelly Lee Owens Review 

Kelly Lee Owens has had a long journey to get to her debut self titled album, not least the journey she made from North Wales to the musical ‘promiseland’ of London. Working as an intern at XL recordings, playing bass for acts and lending her vocals for other people’s projects were all part of this. A series of promising stand alone singles and remixes from Kelly have all culminated in this her debut album. This work is a reflection of her time in London and the influences she’s picked up since. She has been billed as a natural talent in the cool Electronic and Dance music she plies and a talented producer on top of that, despite many not having heard of her. The key thing for Kelly is; will she leave a lasting impression now?

‘CBM’ was from her Oleic EP from last year and is the only track from that featured on this album. You’re instantly struck by the clicking beats which bend in sound and focus with Kelly’s echoed and repetitive words echoing around the track with a flashing beat beside it. Her spoken vocals come in and out of focus much like the beats and the song progresses via numerous shifts and well placed synth additions. The song goes into a producer’s solo of sorts with almost vocoded synth chords veering off into a meandering display. In this track alone, the fundamental talents of a producer are there. You do wonder whether the album will sustain itself in its primarily angular and cold aesthetic though. ‘Anxi’ was made with one of those influential people in her recent life in Jenny Hval. The track flourishes gradually from the initial bouncing bass beats to the eerie vocals and string samples of the chorus. This fades away like mist into a pit of heavier beats bouncing off each other with the culmination of them being her ghostly vocal samples and echoed spoken words play in between them. This was indeed an improved varied piece of music with a greater musical awareness. ‘Lucid’ only goes on to confirm this more emphatically. Forlorn and whirring chords set against a high pitched string sample opens the track. The whirring chords form the foundation of the track with subtle rhythmic percussion layered over it as the song goes on. Kelly’s faint and shaded vocals extend into the space of the track and these make up the progression to the shimmering nature of the instrumentation. This then drops into more rhythmic beats and oscillating samples for a sleek and understated finish. 

Reverberating and warped electronica opens ‘Keep Walking’ with Kelly’s soft and wistful vocals taking an assured command of the song. This track has a slow progression with which the whirring and wiry instrumentation serves as a platform for the the vocals as opposed to being the driving force of the song. This is a notable shift in arrangment and method which Kelly pulls off just as well if not better. It is here she goes beyond the Dance and blocky Electronica to deliver a beautiful and multifaceted piece of music. ‘S.O’ opens the album and features an array of styles and sounds with the first minute alone. From sparse minimalist electronica, whirring strings and the light application of tribal beat samples. These go on to combine with Kelly’s airy vocals extending across the distant spaces of the track in a ghostly yet graceful fashion. ‘Evolution’ basically sounds like an improved Factory Floor track with the word ‘evolution’ repeated amongst dance beats and house sounds. However, it takes on a number guises here with this song basically having an awareness of depth and the fluidity of sounds and with this in mind, it is a more accomplished piece of music. That is how you could describe Kelly Lee Owens’ self titled debut. It is a talent of production making itself known to the world. There are occasions where you can predict the outcome of a song in it’s structure, but that’s one of the few predictable things about it. It draw from Dance, House and Electronic influences, but compelling and intriguing music from it by basically not stopping there and adding other elements to it. It’s not a revolutionary album, but she’s certainly created an evolutionary album for the genre. 

Kelly Lee Owens – Kelly Lee Owens = 8.5/10 

Owen Riddle 

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