The Last Great King

by Real Live Owls

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    "Archangels" is the track we submitted for the Tom Hall tribute album, have a dance on us at the end......

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about

A happy customer writes...
"This album is great. A sonic smorgasbord of low slung americana from the badlands of NN1, The Last Great King wears its heart and influences on its sleeve to terrific effect. It's an album of contrasts - dark shadows and sunny skies - perhaps most strikingly on standout track Hades Well, the whirling violins and singalong chorus a siren song to the faustian pact. Fallibility figures throughout. Better Man lurches into life muttering "gonna find myself a ditch/fall right into it" before launching into wide expanses of guitar and vocal equally regretful and optimistic. It's the morning after writ large.
As the album unfolds it's clear the Owls play to each other's strengths. Stevie Ward's voice is an unusually fine thing, reminiscent of Nick Cave.. I could happily listen to it all day. A lesser band might allow it to dominate, but this is a team effort reaching for more than the sum of its parts. So while the vocal is beautifully winsome centre stage on Ballad of the Silver Star, it steps aside for the thundering melodrama of the title track - a distorted whisper warning "be careful what you wish for/some wishes can be cursed" amid a storm of sound.
It's not all noir-ish though. Gutter Song glimmers sly humour, pitching along to a laid back groove with something suspiciously like owls yowling in the background. And it's hard not to smile at that last line about looking at the stars, cliché or no. Wichita Lineman's been done before too but this one's lovely, a summery delight surging through soft evening air.
In fact it's hard to believe this is a debut album. The roadtrip it takes you on is bumpy at times, but never less than complex and assured, rewarding repeated listening. Like the westerns it takes its cue from, it's innocence lost and the promised land just over the horizon. There again you might as well enjoy the ride. As the final washes of Joanie Mae and Jean Maybelle play out, it's a job to know whether you're listening to rain coming down or sausages sizzling in the pan - not even the Owls themselves can decide. And that's just the way they like it."

credits

released January 1, 2014

G Steven Ward - guitars, voice, piano, ukulele
Matthew J W Felce - guitars, voices, ukulele, electronica
Edward D C Mander - basses, voices, whistling tubes, electronica
Steven G Beswick - hitting things, whistling tubes, electronica

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about

Real Live Owls Northampton, UK

Sliding out of the underbelly of Northampton, Real Live Owls will have you sobbing into your beer, then cheering up, then sobbing again. We play a blend of alt-country, rock, blues, folk and anything else we feel the need to bastardise, 99% original with a smattering of quality covers, whenever we feel like it. We're not gloomy, you just need to put your tongue in our cheeks..... ... more

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