reviewed by Michael Thomas
Ever since Owen Davies released Mystic, it’s hard to look at his music as anything but “mystic.” He describes his music as “new folk,” but it’s hard to easily classify his sensual, spiritual, psychedelic music.
Janky is a very thoughtful collection, with two small interludes and six songs that each seem to impart a kind of wisdom, or at least a warm feeling. Though the longest song on the album is four minutes, the songs are down-tempo and self-assured, making each song feel like a little world, no matter how briefly it exists.
The songs feel like a fusion of religious music, folk and psychedelia all merged into one. It’s anchored by a strong first song, “After Flowers,” a song that seems centred on morality and empathy. “I don’t know wrong from right,” Davies sings at one point, over sombre keys and a leisurely backing beat. There’s a striking lyrical repetition at the end: “Despite what your family thinks/You made a grown man cry.”
“It all felt like dancing to me,” Davies sings in “Dancing To Me,” the kind of slow jam that would be perfect for dancing. “Donovan With the Sun in His Eyes” begins with hazy guitar licks before a swell of synths before bringing in a drum machine. It’s hard not to take inspiration as he sings “Don’t you criticize yourself.”
There’s a sense of irony to “Celebration Station,” in which I’m pretty sure he sings “I’m on my own, in the zone/Getting lit bae, it’s time to celebrate.” The language is out of left field, which is probably the point. It’s certainly not a celebratory song, per se, but the looser drums make it a more unwound song.
Janky‘s slow, melodic world is vintage Owen Davies, infusing thoughtful spirituality into psychedelia and turning folk into something wholly his own.
Top Tracks: “After Flowers”; “Ancient Beast”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)