Well, it’s now completely clear why there is no longer any Girls. I’m sitting in The Lodge – a warm room decorated in the style of an early 20th century masonic lodge – in a chair. Among rows of chairs. There’s even a chair on the stage. The Lodge looks far more like a playhouse then a music venue. Programs litter every seat, plain and elegant, each one stating at the top “Turnstiles Music and Fat Possum Record Presents The Debut of Christoper Owens’ Lysandre.
There are elegant tapestries adorning each wall, bright carpet on the floor. Someone’s wearing a Zissou beanie. No cell phones, so everyone has to talk to one another. The room has a buzz. It feels like most of the crowd is waiting for an opening of an art installation, not the opening of a rock show. That’s probably appropriate, since Lysandre, the album that Christoper Owens and co are presenting is a concept album. The concept being mostly that love is beautiful and that the listener should sit and enjoy them sing sweet songs about love. That might sound unusually corny, but it’s not. It’s really quite beautiful.
While the album has a clear theme and a clear sound, it’s just as schizophrenic as the Girls’ first two LPs. The songs flow together like a group of stalactites: upbeat songs jutting out of one with a calm, soft melody. And somehow it works. Lysandre‘s lyrics are filled with the blunt lyrics, unadorned and honest, that are found in a lot of Owens’ songs like, “What if I’m just a bad songwriter? What if everybody just thinks I’m phony? What if people are sick of hearing love songs?” (“Love is in the Ear of the Listener”). The lyric that “Everywhere You Knew” centers around, “I’ll always make time for love,” captures what I think is so endearing and weirdly original about Owens’ songs. In each song there will come a time when you think you’ve heard it before, only to realize it’s much plainer, and therefore truer, than the genre’s previous takes. Most of the songs are a clear throwback to doo wop, to what Owens feels real love songs used to be about and where honesty comes through to form well-written songs.
Owens is backed by a solid band, two subtle backing vocalists (that really add to the album’s beauty) and a flute, saxophone and harmonica, which alternate in make endearing appearances throughout the album: 1) The saxophone on “New York City” 2) The acoustic guitar on “Everywhere You Knew” 3) The full band feel on “Riviera Rock.”
Overall, it was a night of nostalgia. It was found in the style of the room, the set, the tone of Lysandre and the encore covers of classics like “Wild World” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” But mostly I think it’s Owens and company’s inviting nature that so honestly and clearly says, “Hey, please, come sit down. Let us shower you with love through song.”