Some recording artists, like some poets, can’t be discussed in the vulgar commercial terms of audiences, as Robert Graves famously said a zillion years ago when the world was so much younger than it is now, when the world was enraptured by her poets, the canaries in our coal mines of culture.
These recording artists, as indeed our dwindling number of poets, speak to people directly, one on one, not in groups. Whether on vinyl or in live performance, the job is about talking to one person at a time, continuously, with every word, every note, yours for the taking.
That’s the secret behind Owen Ashworth’s latest project, Advance Base, and his touring, but was also true of his other project, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. His recent appearance at The Business in Anacortes, WA (for the record, Anacortes is not a hipster town, you’re thinking of that other place), proved Mr. Graves right, even all these zillions of years later. Every song Owen offered up, with several selections from his latest LP, “Nephew in the Wild” (Orindal Records, 2015), which I wrote about… whenever, was like something personal, for each of us in the room.
The applause at the end of each piece seemed to crash in and stomp on the tenderness of what felt like something very quiet, very intimate, very… just for me, OK! But it’s the polite thing to do, to applaud when songs finish. And yet, every time, the noise of such annoying social conventions with Ashworth’s songs breaks the spell, which only reinforces the long dead, irascible Mr. Graves, all those zillions of years ago.
Real conversation has no need of praise or apology. That night, at The Business, everything, every story, every song, every feeling, every memory, was… just between us.