An extraordinary collection of songs...

Not many new artists can say they’ve toured and sung backup for a prominent rock band during their late teens, but Eve Owen isn’t just any up-and-coming musician. Owen has been busy collaborating and lending her haunting alto vocals to The National’s songs like ‘Where Is Her Head,’ which resulted in a Reddit thread praising the artist and raising the question: who is Eve Owen and why doesn’t she have any solo music? Cue her cathartic record, ‘Don’t Let The Ink Dry.’

No longer hiding in the background as a guest vocalist, Owen’s musical talent is brought to light against soothing acoustic guitars and gentle piano ballads. Her lyrics are raw and introspective, with her music playing off the dichotomy of being both delicate but still powerful. 

Exploring themes like anxiety, unrequited love, and alienation, Owen’s album is an intimate look at the 20-year-old’s life through a tapestry of emotions woven into folky-electronic tunes. Recorded over three years and produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner, ‘Don’t Let The Ink Dry’ is an ode to youth and all of its complexities. Strung together with energetic rhythms and bittersweet harmonies, Owen comes into her own as a solo artist.

Opening with ‘Tudor,’ Owen formally introduces herself through hushed vocals on the eerie track. The tune is gripping from the start to finish — beginning slowly with soft plucking of the guitar, Owen begins to chant against the pulsating drums, bringing orchestrated chaotic energy into the song. Her voice is inflicted with pain, and dips in and out like a game of hide and seek. The track’s rhythm is stressful, with the drumbeat sounding like a steady heartbeat, thumping against Owen’s spiraling emotions.

There’s newfound energy in the coming-of-age track ‘Mother.’ The song opens with vibrating electronic beats, whilst guitar and quick synth rhythms swell beneath the tune. Tender vocals round out the song, as Owen sings about the importance of having an internal mother and following your gut instinct. There’s a playfulness in the track, with Owen whooping at one point, reminding the listener that the artist is just coming out of her youth, despite having an old soul.

The album is a wonderful patchwork of songs, stitched to create a complete narrative. There’s a sinister and chilling sound that’s similar to the album’s intro in ‘After The Love,’ a somber tale of the end of a relationship. Layers of whistling and low humming are threaded throughout the tune, playing against Owen’s smoky voice, swirling together into a haunting track.

‘Don’t Let The Ink Dry’ is filled with affection and moving tracks, with piano ballads like ‘For Redemption’ and ‘She Says’ that are sure to tug at your emotions. In ‘For Redemption,’ Owen displays her vocal talents, ranging from soothing mummers to rich falsetto. Her voice is emotive and captivating, the heartbreak evident in her quivering vocals as she pleads again and again, “don’t walk me home” against the building rhythm of the piano. Meanwhile, ‘She Says,’ a number dedicated to her parents always being there for her, is tender and is filled with warmth and compassion.

It’s hard not to draw comparisons to Mazzy Star with ‘So Still For You.’ The guitar chords are similar to Star’s song with a similar name, ‘Fade Into You,’ but Owen’s voice is more fleeting, as she howls and shakes, reflecting on the lasting impact words can have on a relationship.

Owen showcases her range throughout the record, proving she’s truly a one to watch in the industry. The album might have roots in folk music, but that doesn't mean it lacks any colour or vibrancy. Soaring vocals take the lead in ‘Blue Moon,’ a grittier track with elements of classic rock as she introduces electric guitar, while songs like ‘Lover Not Today’ display twittering and bright vocals from the singer.

‘Don’t Let The Ink Dry’ is complex and rich in emotion, dazzling with every song. Owen’s talent was evident when she sang alongside The National, but her solo work is truly wonderful as she tells captivating stories through electro-folk music. Every song is a welcomed listen, with something for every mood. The singer-songwriter has mastered heartbreaking ballads like ‘For Redemption,’ but proved she can also create strong folk-pop tracks like ‘Mother.’

Eve Owen has only just started her journey, but there’s clearly a bright future ahead for the artist as her mature and accomplished album proves she’s indie music’s rising star. 

8/10

Words: Caroline Edwards

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