Latt Mowen – The Girl Who Was A Crow – Album Review
Went deep down the rabbit hole with this one.
You know me…always trying to find out more without having to tug on someone’s sleeve and have them lead me there directly. So I’m sitting here…looking at an album credited to Latt Mowen…and good lord if I didn’t get my Google on to try and figure this mystery out. He bears a striking similarity to a dude named Matt Lowen that was dropping tunes onto the internet back in 2012-2014…oddly enough from my own home province of British Columbia & connected to a few people I know on Facebook even…that being said, I’ve got nothing concrete to go on, no links to guide me…all I’ve really got is the music, man.
I never did piece anything together as a certainty no matter how I tried – so Latt Mowen, it shall remain.
Dude’s a real interesting cat…that much I can tell ya. Doesn’t take more than a solitary spin through his upcoming record called The Girl Who Was A Crow to get a sense of just how well Latt here knows his way around lyrics, melody, and a great folk tune – you’ll hear he’s gifted right off the drop on the lead-single “Love Like That” and making music that’s got genuine personality to it. As it began…and Latt’s vocals were so straight-ahead & direct at the beginning, I wasn’t entirely sure for a moment if he wasn’t just gonna narrate this whole thing for us…then the melody started to come in, and I felt like I was on solid ground where I’d find a connection to Mowen’s music no problemo. Then the second verse came along…and…umm…I mean, let’s just say the storyline takes just a FEW significant couple twists & turns right around that point in time…but in such an odd & refreshingly strange way, that I was more than interested. Heck, it doesn’t take long at all before you feel like you’re invested into every detail and the lyrical imagery Mowen puts into this bizarre love song of sorts…it’s as beautiful as it is heartbreaking, and for what it’s worth, really seems like this whole cut comes out remarkably natural and suited to Latt’s strengths. That first dose of melody really breaks through…when Mowen goes from his spoken word-esque delivery to truly singing, the impact can’t be denied…dude sounds perfectly sweet, and like we’re right there in the room, intimate & interactive style. “Love Like That” examines love over the years in multiple forms…from the good to the bad all-around really…those moments where that love is the dominant trait & leading the way…to those moments where your spouse apparently wants to kill or at least hurt ya, you know, just a lil.’ “We had our differences, we weren’t the same” as Latt’ll tell ya at the very start…and during the course of “Love Like That,” he’ll certainly make the case for that – you’ll learn that sometimes that’s a great thing, and at others, it has the man just an inch away from death.
Look…I’ll be real with ya – the road to standing out as an acoustic/folk artist is not the easiest path to navigate to the top…honestly, it’s just about the hardest route you can take in terms of standing out. With as many people as there are capable of grabbing a guitar, playing a show or pushing record, the amount of competition for ear-time out there is as widespread as the good ol’ Grand Canyon twice its current size. Latt gives himself the advantage via his writing…he’s got a genuine gift with words and an authentic wisdom in his voice that earns your attention – listen to a song like “Release Me From Your Love” for a solid example of what I’m talking about here. It’s that you’re going to necessarily hear something so revelatory & new that it’s gonna blow your mind – that’s nearly impossible for anyone out there in the genres & styles he’s rocking at this point in music’s history – but that by no means whatsoever suggests you still can’t come out with a great tune worth proudly turning up. In that respect, The Girl Who Was A Crow is filled with moments just like that – “Release Me From Your Love” is more quick confirmation of the truth in all that – it’s a quality cut, played with heart & genuine passion. Diving into the push/pull of love and wanting to be free from infatuation, devotion, and arguably even responsibility for a moment or two…perhaps just a break for some personal clarity in the ol’ thoughts & emotions – Mowen gives you a tale well worth listening to, each and every time & this track is certainly further proof. I tend to see artists like Latt as poets that use music as the vehicle for their words to get out there into this world of ours…and so be it…I’ve got no problems with that whatsoever – this world is what you wanna make of it, and if you’ve got a voice, something to say, and the gumption to put those two ingredients together like Mowen does, believe me when I say, there’s plenty of us willing to listen.
While like any listener out there in this world, I enjoy contrasting themes, lyricism that’s deviant, and songs that roam into multiple areas from the evocative to the provocative with confidence…which I’d probably make an argument on behalf of those first two cuts “Love Like That” and “Release Me From Your Love” are like to experience to a large degree. Not necessarily designed to be even be intentionally funny – but life is like that sometimes, even in the hardest of situations we find ourselves in – and you’ll find that there are definitely a couple of spots in those opening cuts that’ll bring a smile to your face for the content, lyrical imagery, or sentiment expressed in that tongue-in-cheek way. And right on – like I said, I think that’s an important avenue of music that many artists find themselves at home on for at least a minute or two in their careers…and the more flexibility you have in what you do, theoretically the more potential you have to open up the audience even further to new ideas or directions you wanna go. That being said…sometimes the simple route between point-A to point-B is the most traveled because it purely makes the most sense, is the most efficient…the most tried, tested, and true – you feel me? In that regard, listening to “Emma Rae” was probably the moment where I personally went from really enjoying myself in listening to Latt Mowen to really hearing what makes him truly special. There’s no hiding within a track like this…no lines to make us raise an eyebrow in wonder, curiosity, or humor – “Emma Rae” is a straight-ahead love-song, and makes no attempt whatsoever to disguise that from us. And you know something? In my opinion, it’s brought out the some of the very best in this guy; from the songwriting itself, to the more serious vibe, the focused melody, the gorgeous vocals – I mean…you gotta hand it to Latt on “Emma Rae” – it’s a beautiful song through & through. Unafraid to dive into melancholy to really tap into the light in the dark, this cut has a really innocent & chill, steadiness at its core despite how much movement there is in the guitar & melody…ultimately, it’s the kind of stoic & comforting vibe that feels really sure about the conclusions Latt’s drawing to in his words. “You’re the voice of silence laughing, you’re the riot in the doorway, you’re the human constellation, the reflection of a star, looking at the galaxy, in every human heart” – I think I’ve got that right for ya…I’m working with a pre-release here as The Girl Who Was A Crow isn’t officially out until October 1st, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got that quote from “Emma Rae” is correct – do you SEE how stunning that line really is? “Emma Rae” is full of’em when it comes right down to it…to me, this is the song where Latt went from good to great. It’s just a little shy of the innocence that comes along with something like you’d find in the sound of Mimicking Birds…but not that much of a distant cousin at all…that’s always gonna be welcome in my speakers…anything that reminds me remotely of that gem of a band is going to get my attention, yessir.
There are elements I like about “When Time Was A Glass Of Champagne” a lot, a few that I’m not as big on as well – but overall, I’m a firm believer that if you’ve stuck with Latt Mowen so far to this point, you’d be more than inclined to stick with it & keep going – it might be a bit less balanced of a song, yet it’s still a quality tune. The bottom line is Latt’s a stellar songwriter…chances are, one way or the other, he’s gonna have no problem pulling people onboard. As far as this particular cut is concerned, the lyrical details are really well sorted out…it’s a great tale of “love at first bite” and the song of Nancy & Bobby trying to navigate the blossoming of a relationship, all the way to the point where the shine has worn off. The details are freakin’ fantastic – Latt’s gift with words always comes through on every one of these songs – that’d be my main standout element of “When Time Was A Glass Of Champagne” for me personally…this song plays like a great story reads, and that’s a stellar attribute to have workin’ in your favor when it comes to drawing people in to listen & keep’em listening. Having said that…I dunno – I have this strange push/pull thing myself when it comes to a song like this one…ultimately, I wouldn’t take anything away from Mowen’s performance, save for maybe a split-second’s worth of hesitation in the breakdown perhaps…but it’s those writer’s tricks that stand in the way of me completely loving it too. I tend to bring this song up as the example all the time simply because it’s the most clear – but a track like Bryan Adams’ “The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You” – it’s not necessarily a ‘punch line’ in the sense of comedic value, more-so in timing, you feel me? So when you get to that point of Bryan’s song where you reach the hook and you’re like…waiting what feels like a million years just to get to the “is you” part of the line after the set-up, it can end up feeling a bit more contrived than sincere, or at the very least, a bit more predictable as a result of the method being so utilized & employed by so many. So yeah…I’m probably on that train and riding a little bit here when it comes to waiting on the actual line of “When Time Was A Glass Of Champagne,” because we do see it coming in the design of how a song like this tends to work on a structural level. Of course, the flipside of that coin is arguably bulletproof songwriting that makes sense to our ears, hearts, and minds as we listen, and the reason we see lines like that coming down the road are because a writer like Mowen has expertly illuminated the path we’ll take to get there. Six or one half-dozen of the other I suppose my brother – I’m definitely not disputing it’s still another quality tune, I definitely didn’t get up to cross the room or turn it off – I’m probably just advocating that there’s a bit more Latt in the rest of Latt’s material surrounding this cut is all. You hear a bit more of the craft at work on “When Time Was A Glass Of Champagne” I suppose.
I’ll be upfront with you…I basically always assume that if something has anything to do with vampires, I’m probably out. I’ve just never gotten’em, you know what I mean? Interview With The Vampire, or Bram Stoker’s Dracula…maybe…on a really good day where I’ve got nothing to do and next to zero options for entertainment…but even then, I gotta admit, there’s still about a million other things I’d probably rather be watching. And that’s not like…you know…comin’ from some place up high that’s gonna be like, gimme a werewolf or a mummy or a creature from the black lagoon any day of the WEEK bruh, just not a vampire – nah…I got no use for any of that really. Metaphorically speaking…I can get behind the use of vampires in that regard I suppose…I can theoretically see multiple scenarios for that where I’d be more than cool with it. Not that my opinion matters any more than anyone elses…if you dig your vampires, rock right the hell on – I’m not gonna grab the cross, I’m not gonna grab the garlic, I’m not gonna try to stop ya or douse you in holy water – you do you. PLUS…I gotta admit…this might actually be my favorite song on the entire record if I’m being real with ya – Latt’s made it impossible for me to not love this cut. What makes the difference here isn’t the lyricism – he always writes you a quality story that’s well worth your time to really dig into as you listen in any of these songs, and even though this is laden with vampire-based imagery & correlations to life/love/relationships and how much we really need each other – all that is cool, or at least cool enough with me – but it’s the way Latt sings this song that will have you really noticing “Maybe We Were Vampires.” What I’m not tellin’ ya is that I think it’s as accessible as perhaps as of the first four likely are for the masses out there – but I do think there’s a degree of appeal in this cut that’ll reach an entirely different part of Mowen’s audience. I mean, I’m just gonna say it as plain as day here, because y’all know I just call things like I hear’em – Latt’s really singing this song, full-stop. I know that seems like a bizarre comment to make, but trust me when I say, you’ll absolutely notice the difference he makes from the microphone here – and how well it truly suits him. I listen to a track like “Maybe We Were Vampires” and it takes me right back to the early days of Radiohead…acoustic offshoots like you’d find on The Bends & Pablo Honey…or the My Iron Lung EP…a song like Mowen’s got here is not at all that far removed from that very level of acoustic genius, if even at all. Are there imperfections? Sure! Thom freakin’ Yorke makes plenty of’em too when he sings, and it’s every bit as bloody addictive when he does too – there’s something massively special about the energy & vibe that Latt locks onto with “Maybe We Were Vampires” which leads him to one of the most surprising moments of his new record, and also some of the most truly captivating results in my opinion.
You know…for just a dude & his guitar, good ol’ Latt here makes a rad impression on ya. I listen to a track like “Another You” and I gotta say – the man’s a genuine wordsmith and there’s no conclusion to be drawn to otherwise. All-in-all, there’s a tremendous amount of authenticity in what Mowen is creating on this record…he might have the occasional vocal tone here & there that’s gonna remind you of something Tom Petty this, something Tom Petty that…but ultimately, this man right here is doing his own thing totally differently when it comes to his approach to Acoustic Folk. It’s all really natural & well-suited for Latt’s style of writing & sound…the man has a way with tellin’ us a story through his songs, and as he travels the map looking for “Another You,” he realizes just how impossible some people really are to ever duplicate, or compensate for the hole the original real deal can leave behind when they’re gone. No real complaints or major observations from me here…”Another You” is a solid cut on The Girl Who Was A Crow…it’s probably somewhere in the middle-ish of what I’m digging throughout this lineup of songs…it’s a quaint & pleasant moment in time, sweet & sincere in its sentiment…it’d be hard to just up & rail against a song like this without being some kind of grump made out of pure granite stone. To me, “Another You” was simple & straightforward with its sound & structure, well thought-out in the lyricism you’ll find, sung pretty strongly by Latt…lots of positives here to be found, even if the gentle demeanor & disposition of this particular track might have to battle a bit harder for your attention by comparison to much of the rest in this set-list. At the end of the day, a cut like “Another You” still adds strength to the lineup overall…it’s decisively a plus here & not taking away anything from the flow or content of The Girl Who Was A Crow…it might not be the first to stand out, but it’s a cut you can rely on.
That Tom Petty-esque tone of his voice is always present – but he nearly approaches Raine Maida’s solo acoustic sound as well at points in his vocals on the final track “The Girl Who Was A Crow,” maybe a little of that naturally welcoming melody you’d find in something like Van Morrison as well – both of which are certainly a welcome comparisons in my world. I have no idea how the idea of being a crow resonates with the girl this may or may not be about in real life; I could see that comparison being a strange one to receive as the compliment it’s clearly intended to be…but hey, on the other side of that fence is the reality that you’d know for sure that Latt’s putting real unique thought into the relationships he enters into. Beyond that, you can hear this obviously isn’t any kind of music being made out of malice whatsoever – Latt’s got nothing but sweet intentions at the end of the day, and quite clearly has a big heart to go with his creative mind. I don’t think he set out here at the start to recreate the wheel when it comes to the mechanics of Acoustic Folk…I think he set out to create a set full of heartfelt tunes that allow him the opportunity to express the feelings, thoughts, and emotions he carries around with him daily…and to share those with us all, for which I’m certainly grateful. In that regard, he should be proud of a mission accomplished, and the delicate finale this record has in its title-track at the very end – I know I’ve found something to like or love about this entire set-list personally, and I’d reckon the folks out there are gonna be inclined to feel the same. As I’ve told ya from the get-go, Mowen writes a quality song, and his vocals, style, and sound carries an endearing cadence sure to get people listening.
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