The last time Jordan Faye appeared on the blog, it was because of his excellent solo record, Sorry, I Slept In. In his email, he alluded to the fact that his backing band was called none other than The Grey Owls. As it turns out, the band released a self-titled EP this year.
Where Faye’s music tended to veer into pop-rock territory, as a part of the Grey Owls with Brian Scarth and Dave Haffey, the music is purely and unapologetically folk. Each song is usually filled with some combination of banjo, mandolin, guitar and bass and plenty of great vocal harmonies.
Despite the (for the most part) bright melodies, the subject matter addressed in these songs are dark. Broken relationships, whether friendly or romantic, are themes in a few songs, while alcoholism and substance abuse are the main focus of a few others.
Opener “Picture in My Head” is one of those songs about broken relationships; the lyrics deal with it in very specific lyrical imagery like “You really think I’m still the fool/Pours salt into my open wounds” and the powerfully evocative line of “Do you still think you’re a rental.” The song “Aurora” is purposely ambiguous in what the song title is addressing—though all signs point to it being about the affluent Ontario town, though it could just as easily be about a love. In the song, the character endures blizzards and mean dogs to get to Aurora, but comes to the conclusion that he never wants to see Aurora again.
On the substance abuse part of things, “Jealous of the Bottle” has a surprisingly light tone considering its subject matter of a man completely consumed with drinking, so much that he spends more time with a bottle of booze than he does the woman he loves. Plus the line “It’s true enough that Tuesday has always been my booze day ” is an amazing rhyming line. “Bathroom Floors” tones down the cheeriness a little, though the melody is still pleasant, as it talks about a friend (or lover, it could be either one) who used to say to never give up, but never does anymore, spending many an evening praying to the porcelain god.
The one jarringly dark point is the third song, “Each and Every Night,” where the instrumentation becomes noticeably heavier, particularly with the very pronounced bass presence. The narrator of this song is full of regrets and self-pity and wonders if his love will ever take him back.
Despite the dark subject matter, however, it ends on a note of optimism with the quick “The End of the Tunnel,” a ditty about reaching the proverbial light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
From one owl talking about other owls, this EP is a hoot.
Top Track: “Jealous of the Bottle”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)