Sam Owens – How To Build a Clock
By Damian Burke
Recorded in 2010 in Sam Owens’ kitchen, between the wails of the next door neighbor’s baby, How To Build A Clock is not the first full length album, but it is the only one of four currently available.
A designer and painter (lookout for his exhibition with friend Matt Maust of Cold War Kids in NYC later this month), the work on his website shows that his eye is as keen as his ear, but let’s just focus on this folksy piece of work for now.
What Goes Into Building A Clock
‘See You’ starts off like an atmospheric film soundtrack, reminiscent in part of Bernard Herrmann’s haunting theme for Taxi Driver. With chimes and rolling percussion (I believe that’s a washing machine being played, not the kettle drums), it’s a little poppier when it kicks off, but beautiful nonetheless.
‘It Takes Time’ and ‘That’s No Way To Leave’ both have an endearing Beatles vocal quality. Employing a simple melody over railroad rhythms and sounds suggesting of rail work, ‘Waiting For The Train’ has a very welcoming tone, and is neither the first nor last track to feature organ and bells – bleeding into the dreamy ‘What Was His Name.’
The title single, ‘How To Build A Clock’ is available for free download and is by far the most likely to receive radio play due to its perfect balance of pop and bittersweet soul.
‘Sad Day Guitar (Variation II)’, again, sounds like a soundtrack, but this time to a murder mystery – If you’re not already streaming the full album from up above (which you should), you can hear a short section set to visuals in this promo.
Now for my favourite track. Keeping with Sam’s whittling of something grand from bare-bones, ‘Testify’ is simple, sweet and sincere – much like the triple time apologetic follow on, ‘So Sorry’.
Not the first song on this LP to make me think of The Black Keys, ‘Red Is The Color’ is terrific. If it were my blues rock creation, however, I’d have let some tardy fuzzed out guitar sit in the back, not disturbing the rest.
If ‘Another Day’ and ‘That’s No Way To Leave’ were to end off the album I’d be happy, but ‘Bicycle In The Wood’ returns us to the very beginning after an imaginative journey.
What’s To Like This Record?
Like the Resident Scout album reviewed recently, it’s a testament to what one talented man can do. While each of the 12 stops along the way has it’s own sound, it doesn’t deviate in character or become tedious.
Sam is currently working on a new EP which we will hopefully review when it is released.
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