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Christine Owman

Throwing Knives

(Revolving; US: 26 Jul 2011; UK: 21 Dec 2010)

Christine Owman is a pop singer, for sure, but she’s not shy with experimentation. On her new record, the half-Swedish, half-Danish performer plays all of the instruments (save the drums) including cello, ukulele, bass, banjo, piano, harmonium, saw, and just about anything else you can think of. With all these elements, Throwing Knives seeks to mesh the shadowy dream world of these songs with tense, distorted elements, digging flaws into an otherwise hushed and gliding beauty. The mix can work, Owman’s whispery vocals waft over “The Conflict”, but it’s the distant scrape of a violin that makes the song haunting. The otherwise fragile “Sinners” bristles with distorted whines as it closes. The album’s most expansive moment, “Apart”, manages to be its most infectious track even as its elements seem to be poking each other all the way through. It’s a more urgent tension than these other dark tunes, and by standing out it highlights the trouble you might run into in Throwing Knives. Owman seems to be building an underlying tension, a danger that never quite comes to fruition. The quiet here, and Owman’s own overly hushes singing, never builds but instead sustains itself so that the occasional flourish (or blemish) will catch you, but the songs themselves start to drift away. Even the swirling sound of “Ffwd”, the albums loudest song by default, never quite digs its heels in the way it could. Throwing Knives shows Owman succeeding in moments, achieving interesting experiments within these songs. Sadly, though, the songs that surround those moments aren’t as memorable.

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Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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