Owen Pye – Owen Pye and the Sunday School Band
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: December 08, 2009
Upsizing from acoustic to full band is a little backwards, especially in 2010. Everybody seems to be going green by dropping all those pesky, carbon monoxide-breathing band members and the big nasty vans needed to cart them around. But it snowed in Atlanta yesterday so obviously Global Warming is a Global Farce. It also takes a certain amount of self-worth to realize that your tunes may be better in fuller forms, which must be a lot to swallow if you were a once lone wolf like Owen Pye. He landed on my radar with one 3-song offering and a silky smooth voice, but now he is back and bigger than ever with Owen Pye and the Sunday School Band, a victorious re-imagining of his previously sparse alt-country sounds. Clearly there can never be too many smelly road warriors in the kitchen.
Thankfully the sound and feel of Pye’s usually slow tunes haven’t changed much. “Persistency” is a statement about how hard this damn music thing is (the album's main theme). Featuring a complimentary piano section that seems to bolster Pye at his darkest lyrical moment, this song is not lacking in heavy-hearted sincerity. “I Will Sing” and “The Sunday School Band” are mostly instrumental numbers, which serve to break up the record’s sometimes downer verbal fare. Pye is a man with ambitions, which implies that he is a man scorned. Another start stratagem, these instrumental numbers allow us to look out the window for a second and ease our minds while Joel Sprenger’s electric guitar takes us to the back of a dirty blues club. Nice move, Mr. Pye.
“Success” closes the album by detailing the tough road Pye’s driven down. He says in an ironically nonchalant way, “They spent all their money on the band that plays right after me / They spent all their money on the indie hipster scene / Cuz money can’t buy the things that matter the most / You have to learn for yourself that bank accounts and resumes won’t hold your life into place.” It’s bitter and clearly personal, but Pye realizes that he’s still able to create music. And while he might have those days when it all seems stupid (I call those Thursdays), he’s still enjoying himself throughout this always-surprising existence. When the song goes semi-grunge, Pye becomes his most forceful, saying, “You don’t have to live up to each other’s preset standards / You don’t have to keep the burden that you picked up when you grew up.” While not worded in hazy metaphor or fancy verbiage, Pye succeeds with his simple message: be whatever it is you want to be that day. Maybe soon he will have people eating out of his able hands, or maybe he won’t. Regardless, I think it’s clear at this point that Owen Pye and The Sunday School Band has freed Mr. Pye from the mental shackles of disappointment. He is finally on a path for triumph, whatever that means.
Recommended If You Like: Drew Danburry, The Emilia Band, glass cases, Alaksa & Me, podiums