HE’S a gentleman of the leftfield country music scene, is Durham, North Carolina’s Owen FitzGerald who, after appearing in the music world as Jokes&Jokes&Jokes awhile, has returned to his ‘government name’ – the name under which he snuck out two fine if lyrically troubled and akimbo albums digitally in 2015, Tight Gyre and Pointer.
That brace of releases included tracks such as “A Brief Personal History”, “I Am Not My Own” and “I Don’t Like Myself, I Wish I Was Smoke”. Hey, is everything alright in your world, Owen? Maybe not.
As also documented on this new single, emerging from his new relationship with Carrboro, North Carolina’s Sleepy Cat Records, Owen feels a little outta step with life’s rich tapestry. “Each word is hard to choose / That’s why I do not travel well in groups,” he confesses on the skeletal, wintry but overarchingly lovely alt. country of that single, “Bismuth, The Last Gentleman.” And just when you think you’ve got the measure of it, it breaks into an off-kilter, wind-in-the-telegraph-wires guitar meander, taking it somewhere else entirely.
Although you’ll never find him riding in a posse, he does roam the same backwoods as Cass McCombs, Bill Callahan and maybe Damien Jurado; and on February’s forthcoming long player, A deep clean you can count on!, nine tracks straight from his soul, you’ll find him examining all the disassociations that buffet and abrade us in our early to mid 21st-century lives: strained relationships with our bodies, falling in love, getting sober and just plain damn getting by.
Owen says of “Bismuth, The Last Gentleman”: “When you’re in a crowd of people does it ever, all of a sudden, feel like a nature documentary? Are you like me? Do you watch yourself make decisions and wonder how you knew to do just that, just then?
“I feel separated from other people most of the time; my own body, too. Being disconnected is alright: everything is always in the right place. But, sometimes I feel like a bird who can’t land. Sometimes it feels like I’ve got the forever shift in the fire tower.”
Owen FitzGerald’s A deep clean you can count on! will be released by Sleepy Cat Records on February 4th.