Judith Owen - Happy This Way - StereoMojo
24 June 2009StereoMojo
If there was ever a singer whose music is a direct reflection of her life experiences, it's Judith Owen. Her Welsh father was a singer and her mother died while Judith was in her teens. She has be oft quoted as saying , "I sing for him, I write for her". So yes, there is plenty of angst in her sophisticated and artistic lyrics, but then she is married to Harry Shearer who was heavily involved with the satirical and hilarious Spinal Tap as well as The Simpsons. Doh! When you throw all of that into a blender, you get songs that are intelligent and true to life with a humorous twist, sung by a woman with loads of talent and a low ranged voice that she controls wonderfully. Her style is hard to peg because she is so eclectic (read - never boring) with influences as diverse as jazz, Celtic and folk. The instrumental arrangements go from minimal to full symphony orchestra.
To whom to compare her? Look no further than the guest appearances; Richard Thomspon, Cassandra Wilson , Julia Fordham , pop/jazz vocalist Ian Shaw and Nick Drake. "Wait", you say, "Nick Drake died in 1974". True, but his influence is felt posthumously, most evident in her song entitled - are you ready - "Nick Drake". But this is not a maudlin collection, rather the spirit is more "Yeah, life is tough and depressing sometimes, but you can overcome it and be "Happy This Way". Her songs - she wrote all of them - let you think and feel with a wry British smile at times and leave you refreshed emotionally and fulfilled musically. In a musical world where lyrics are written with "Oh baby" as a highlight and actual vocal talent is overshadowed by how the "artist" looks on MTV, Judith Owen is a not a breath, but a hurricane of fresh air.
Audio quality on this Linn (Yes, the turntable company) SACD is superb with minimal compression, allowing the dynamics to be heard naturally with good air and detail. You can hear Judith any way you choose; 5.1 SACD Surround, SACD Stereo, CD or even HDCD. On the Linn website, you can even download individual cuts or the whole enchilada in your choice of formats from MP3 to Studio Master Lossless ultra hi-rez.
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