I knew just by glancing at the cover of Owsley’s self-titled CD, a man with an electric guitar leaping with Pete Townsend flare, that the songs would be reminiscent of the high-school hi-jinks pop of the 1960s/70s British invasion. A distant relative of the 1960s-era psychedelic LSD chemist of the same name, Will Owsley rekindles old school psychedelia and classic rock (not of the capital C), using studio artistry to bring the best of the past into present day pop. Using inventive arrangements of keyboards, guitar and choral-esque vocal harmonies, Owsley, a former member of the coulda, woulda, shoulda been signed and fine band the Semantics (which also spawned piano-driven melodic swooner Ben Folds’ fame), honed his sound right out of his mentors’ attics. Using multi-vocal melodic balladry and harmonic outros reflective of the primordial godfathers of anything modern rockers call inventive, the Beatles, Owsley pays patronage to his idols in my favorite track off the CD, the radio-friendly single, “Coming Up Roses.”
In “Oh No the Radio,” the crafty use of tempo changes and purposeful incorporation of catchy phrases tells us that not every song with simple lyrics and rhymes has to be labeled hackneyed. Not deflecting too much from the collaboration with Ben Folds (who easily felt guitars were highly overrated as the main ingredient to rock n’ roll), Owsley lets the piano powerhouse pop tunes like “Sonny Boy.” In the pop ballad “Class Clown,” Owsley cleverly uses organ melodies, an instrument some churches consider alternative, and mixes it with funk style percussion, ending the CD with a fade-out jam.