Ireland-based musician Owen Ferguson, known as Owsey, has released his crowdfunded 18-track album ‘Castaway At The Crossroads Of Time.’
This review has been a very long time coming, and I apologize to all our readers for the absence! While I’ve yet to review a poor quality album or EP, this release by Owsey is something I have not wanted to rush. I’ve been expecting this Album since he announced the journey of writing and recording it, and he and his art will always hold a special place in my musical heart for very personal reasons.
(Image via BandCamp)
For weeks now, I’ve struggled on how I would tackle this review due to the number of tracks and depth of passion I had about each one. For a while, I considered adding a new heading for each track and writing about the individual pieces. However, I decided against it as that definitely would get repetitive and do a sore disservice to the profound image and essence of this work. I’ve listened through the album more times than I can count, trying to find a way to adequately do it justice in the limited time and space I have in a blog post. I’ve settled on an organized stream of conscience approach, pulling out some of my favorite pieces and parts of the album to illustrate said stream of conscience.
Before I begin, if you haven’t heard of the album, or Owsey, I’d like you to watch this two minute clip announcing the project.
Absolutely incredible. That’s my technical review.
Owsey has always known how to produce his pieces well, it’s quite satisfying to listen to his music simply for the production. Everything is mixed right in place and mastered to perfect ear candy, and this album is no exception. His use of unique natural instruments accenting all of his pieces (one of my favorites here being ‘My Dog, Sora,’ such beautiful instrumentation) is always crafted amazingly. Leaving alone the composition, each small sound and instrument finds its own spot right where it belongs. I just love the way Owsey produces! A foley and atmospheric master (please listen to some of his older music as well to fully appreciate his history of this).
(His Dog, Sora via instagram)
Thematic and Compositional Review
I still struggle on where to begin talking about this album. I’ll be honest, I still am mentally and emotionally in the middle of a tragedy that resonates with a lot of this album, so some of what I write here may be skewed due to this. However, I hope it only gives me an insight I may otherwise not have rather than causing me to over-extrapolate. Regardless, bear with me.
It’s apparent this album is a journey through various stages of loss, guilt, struggling to find purpose, and living with the reality of what life has given you. Life gives us all different things, but one commonality we can all find is that at some point, it will give us something difficult. What that is may vary, but it’s a truth of life. The opener of the album ‘Can’t Believe I Had You‘ is such an honest expression of commitment to a person who is no longer there, a testament to one of the truest relationships and the pain and guilt that can come along with it. It its a beautifully brutal introduction to the theme of the album.
The last year or two, Owen has taken Owsey a slightly different route with more pop / singer songwriter themed music, and I love it. The next piece, Limbo, is the first taste of this singer song writer type which gives us the ideas of the search for purpose. Smooth vocals and an even smoother instrumental really drive this piece along, the melody is almost hypnotic. If I’m not careful I’ll fall into repetition here, so I simply encourage you to go take a listen.
The next few pieces are back to a more instrumental and ambient Owsey, and by their titles alone you start to feel heavy. ‘Don’t Listen To Yourself, Owen,’ ‘When Flowers Die In The Summer,’ ‘Part Of Me, Apart From Me.’ It Goes on. Emotional ambience is one of Owen’s specialties. The atmospheres, pianos, strings, simply all of the musical parts and pieces capture your attention here, while the titles give you thoughts of things that shouldn’t make sense or are difficult. Things that have left and died in their season, and the reality that you were apart of them, resulting in that part of you now being apart from you. In the midst of this however, you can’t blame yourself. You can only try to live again. It’s just classic Owsey storytelling in a way only he can.
To me, the next section (tracks 7 – 9) feels slightly more purposeful and contented even without reading the titles. I’ve already mentioned ‘My Dog, Sora’ above, but again I cannot state enough how beautifully Owsey has produced this album. These pieces are gorgeous, and the composition is loving and soft. It’s a break for us to catch our breath and relax in the beautiful melodies and instrumentation. Let’s all take some time, ‘Let The Surf Clear Your Head’.
Here, let’s have some more Sora before we start ‘Falling Back Into You‘ (the album).
(Collective awww from our readers)
By titles alone, I’ve grouped the next few tracks (11 – 14) together. When working through something difficult, it’s a battle. You take 2 steps forwards and 3 backwards. That’s how I see this section. Here we have more vocal heavy tracks once again with melodies full of heartache. The lyrics in ‘I Broke The Front Door Down‘ I don’t dare to try and explain, but the pain here is profound. The darkness in times like these is blinding and suffocating. We just need someone to save us. This is easily one of my favorites in the album, the harmonies are gorgeous and the electric guitar works so much better than I imaged an instrument like that would in this context. A true pioneer.
As I move on, I want to take an entire paragraph here to address ‘The Signpost For Sheol.’ This is the one track I can be sure that we’re speaking of the passing of something. Sheol is the ancient Hebrew word and idea for the darkness where the dead go, and as soon as I read that on the initial track list, it caught my eye. The song itself is an orchestral instrumental piece with powerful choral vocals. It may only be a minute and a half long, but you feel as if you’re standing at the entrance to Sheol. I can’t say whether or not we are entering it for the remainder of the album, but it almost feels that way, especially with the next short instrument track named ‘What On Earth Have I Done?‘ This was a truly powerful pair of tracks.
Following on the heals of that brilliant pair, tracks 15 – 17 is my favorite section. With the inclusion of the albums namesake, these pieces are wistful and beautiful ambience, a very unique Owsey feel. My favorite piece of the entire album is track 16, ‘I Am Beyond Sorry (For Everything)‘. Even though simple, it feels incredibly wide with the atmos and foley. Birds cry in the back of the mix and the atmospheres fill both sides of your headphones while the slow moving piano chords and strings evolve and intensify. I’m slowly being left without air here. I just truly have no more words for this piece. Stunning. This entire section is just stunning. In coherence with my perceived theme, it feels as if you’re slowing back down and simply living and existing where you’re at, even though its dark for now.
Finally, we arrive at track 18, ‘Find Me At The End Of This Life‘. This 7 minute piece is inspiring to say the least. The gradual build of the vocals, piano, bass, and atmos meet a vibrant synth and guitar lead that fill you with purpose. That is incredibly important to me. This album, while beautiful in so many ways, can be dark and easy to find yourself lost in at times. However, you aren’t left without hope. Life brings bad, but it brings good as well. We don’t know what good may lay around the corner unless we rise and walk to meet it. We can’t stay locked in our fears, our regrets, our guilt. We can remain committed to what we lost, but we must soldier on. Once we have finished our run, we will meet at the end of this life. Until then, we remember, we love, and we walk.
It seems I did exactly what I was trying not to do, but I have written what I felt I needed to write. Whatever you do, don’t take my grouping of tracks to be as their own separate EP, I was simply trying to find a way to make this review as concise as possible. Each track works together to write one story. Owsey and this album are a true inspiration and light in my walk in the world, and I urge all of you to take a listen. I didn’t do a whole lot of compositional review here, but it is well worth your time to listen and dissect how uniquely each track has been put together into one coherent album. I can never adequately express how incredible this artist and album is.
Where to stream/purchase
You can follow any embedded links, or you can click the BandCamp link below! We also interviewed Owsey back in 2017 and you can read that interview here.