All cover albums have a pick'n' mix quality, with artists often going for famous songs that are so familiar that alternative versions inevitably suffer. Others take lesser known songs, often from unexpected genres (in this case "emo"), and somehow manage to define an approach which is much more worthwhile. Mike Kinsella is a veteran of various Ohio bands and records in a nice lo fi fashion including using the home of his mother as a studio.
Under the nomenclature Owen he has produced an album fitting to the current wintry mood made up of songs from obscure bands like Lungfish ("Descender"), Mojave 3 ("Some kinda angel") and Blake's Babes ("Girl in a box). clocking in at 30 minutes this is an economical but worthy album which grows on every listen. The cover of hard rock band Against Me's "Borne On The FM Waves Of The Heart" is particularly beautiful with the soft strains of Sarah Mitchell's voice on backing vocals. Equally the more cheery pop tune of the album comes in the form of a cover of the Promise's "Forget Me" which has a nice light, airy feel. perhaps best of all is one of the more well known songs covered, namely Depeche Mode's "Judas" which as one of that bands simpler tracks is now completely stripped back by Kinsella.
As stated at 30 minutes this is not a particularly demanding listen, although the covers here do send you back to compare with the originals and the outcome is generally positive. The fact that many of the songs make no claim to fame in the first place also is a positive as Kinsella's choices flow easily and there is a unified whole that binds this work together.
Review by Red on Black