AWOL ONE + FACTOR: OWL HOURS
Journalists love comparing Awol One to Tom Waits, but that’s like comparing Robert Englund to Boris Karloff. Awol One has just one “character,” but it feels chillingly real. His voice on Owl Hours is so deep and weary, it’s almost like he’s taken a hit of nitrous. And his lyrics are so cynical. “Brains Out” is like a Gravediggaz song where the gun turns inward: “I’m sick and tired of being stuck in the same route/I got a date with myself and I’m blowing my brains out.” Is this the same guy who enjoys “seeing my daughter smile” later in the album, and should we call for help? Canadian producer Factor really sautees the menace with groovy organs and piano plinks and electro beats somehow reminiscent of Hall & Oates’ “Maneater.” “Stand Up” is probably the jeep beat hit off the album, but give an extra special listen to “Back Then”—this ode to long-lost young love tugs the male heartstrings harder than anything by fakers like the Streets. With Owl Hours, Awol One proves himself the most brooding of the Shape Shifters crew—and any similarities to Steven Wright are purely coincidental.