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Music Ledger Line by Tanner Stechnij

Kelly Lee Owens | Inner Song

November 25, 2020

Inner Song reflects a continued evolution for Owens and a further distillation of a sound that’s becoming recognizably her own.

Kelly Lee Owens wears a lot of hats on her stylish, sleek second album Inner Song, an inviting tech house-pop record connected by a vibe: in parts classy, dancey, and a bit cutesy. Coming off of her loose, frequently pretty self-titled debut, Kelly has tightened up her album-making, further establishing her identity as a subtle, minimalist producer and sweet singer/songstress. On Inner Song, Kelly plays the role of synth-popster with the Purity Ring-esque “L.I.N.E.,” a gorgeous and honest break-up song where she confesses “I’d rather be on my own / Gonna trust my speed and show him / Love Is Not Enough alone.” Her always ethereal vocals are here in harmony with aching, spacey keys that threaten to skew saccharine but ultimately hit the right sentiments thanks to Kelly’s ear for enticing, mature sounds. They’re often bright and bubbly — like in “Melt!,” a chirpy rain dance inspired by global warming and melting ice caps — but can also take on a strange tenor, dipping into obscure mystery, especially through repetition. “Re-Wild” is a nearly straight-forward alternative R&B track that would sound right at home with some of Kelela’s songs until it opts for a tonal switch-up in it’s repeating, paranoid outro featuring a warbling organ. The uncanny continues when John Cale delivers a spoken word poem based on the two’s shared Welsh heritage on “Corner of the Sky,” a sparse but insistent seven-minute centerpiece that keeps coming back to the evocative phrase, “Thank god the rain.

The most cathartic and sweaty moment comes in “Night,” a sensual house track that’s delivers a compulsively gyrate-able bass drop between repeated phrases of “It feels so good to be alone” and “with you,” Kelly’s ethereal voice soaring with the final vowels. “Jeanette,” another highlight, is a fist-pumping, nostalgic instrumental that shares a name with Kelly’s beloved, late grandmother. As was the case with her debut, Kelly has crafted another perceptibly personal, electronic album that shows off her versatility within an ethereal, technically-assured sound that’s becoming recognizably hers.

Published as part of Ledger Line | Q3 2020 Issue — Part 2.