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British singer/songwriter Judith Owen, for whom Here is her fifth self-released album, is the ideal performer for music fans who wish Joni Mitchell had gone on making records like Blue and For the Roses back in the first half of the '70s. Owen sounds like she has a complete collection of Mitchell's albums, at least up as far as The Hissing of Summer Lawns, that is, and also a general familiarity with the works of Carole King, Kate Bush, and Tori Amos. She writes and sings quiet, melodic songs dominated by her slow, careful piano playing and richly considered voice. Especially because of her accent, she often sounds exactly like Bush and Amos (who often sound exactly like each other, of course), at least when those singers are not wafting into their soprano ranges. But her lyrics are never as obscure, instead aiming for emotional clarity. That brings back the Mitchell comparison, and the difference there is that Owen sounds like a woman who is happily married with a child rather than suffering romantic turmoil, at least in the present moment. Although the first two songs, "Here" and "You and the Moon" seem to be about a lost and fondly remembered love and a love suffering from separation, respectively, the key songs are the third and fourth ones. "Best Friend" is full of advice to a loved one, while "Worship" is a recollection of a bad, but compelling love affair by someone who is now in a good one. As usual, Owen demonstrates a surprising taste in covers, giving a jazzy reading to the old Survivor hit "Eye of the Tiger," which is a funny idea, but also taking on the Kinks' "I Go to Sleep," a less appealing choice since another influence, Chrissie Hynde, got there first with the Pretenders. Here is an unfailingly tasteful and listenable collection, but it's the work of a confessional singer/songwriter who doesn't have all that much to confess.
Performance CreditsJudith Owen Primary Artist,Piano,Vocals
Lenny Castro Percussion,Drums
k.d. lang Background Vocals
Hummie Mann Conductor
Grant Mitchell Organ,Strings,Harmonium,Sitar,Vibes,Indian Percussion
Sean Hurley Double Bass,Upright Bass
Michael Skinkus Percussion
Mike Bogart Trumpet
Technical CreditsRay Davies Composer
John Fischbach Producer
Hummie Mann Arranger
Grant Mitchell String Arrangements,Orchestral Arrangements
Judith Owen Composer,Audio Production
Brian Porizek Artwork
Wesley Fontenot Engineer
James Peterik Composer