On Tour: The Soil & the Sun w/Owel

Owel, where do I start? Evocative, hypnotic, swells of emotion that emerge out of thin air.


Every now and then you just happen across music that clicks with your sensibilities. For people like me with varied tastes, sometimes what clicks can be as amorphous an apt descriptor of said taste in music. Then there are times when something that appeals to my taste is very specific. It’s uncanny when that happens. Sometimes it’s a band people you know speak highly of, which you have never heard yourself, like in my case Midlake and Sufjan Stevens. Sometimes it’s a band you just happen to catch opening up for another band you really like—for example, Gates opening for the Dear Hunter a year ago, or Other Lives Opening for Radiohead on the King of Limbs tour. Sometimes you have no clue how you came across a band at all. They were, you are, and by some happenstance, your existence was interrupted by theirs, to pleasant results.

Maybe my memory is faltering, but somehow this particular musical jaunt I’ve been on started with Owel. A little digging into my web activity affirms the aforementioned Gates were the source of this particular wellspring of my good will. That mention connected me with enough captivating music to inspire digging further. That effort compelled me to invoke all the artists I mentioned earlier, as Owel, and later the Soil & the Sun, evoked positive impressions.

Owel, where do I start? Evocative, hypnotic, swells of emotion that emerge out of thin air. If I were throwing out comparisons, their arrangements make me think of Explosions in the Sky. There are times when their use of space and compression and capacity for creating atmosphere put me in the mind of Sigur Ros. There are also moments of sinewy tension that have a darkly romantic tone. Those songs are just as compelling as their ambient soundscape-building. Far from amorphous, Owel has a very distinct sound and I was highly satisfied with their self-titled debut. Their follow-up EP Every Good Boy takes their musicality and brightens it with elements of psychedelia and baroque pop, giving rise to a pleasant wall-of-sound feel. Knowing their debut release for Equal Vision Records was imminent cemented my interest in the band, and it just so happens they were scheduled to tour. I was almost sold on attending, but first I had to look into their tour mates.

soilThe artist Owel will be opening for, the Soil & the Sun, was a mystery to me as well, but doing my detective work was relatively easy. The internet is a gift in that way. I prospered from my effort, minimal as it was, by being treated to repeated listens of their catalog. I’d describe their sound as a sweeping take on what some might call chamber (folk) pop, with cinematic scope, orchestral flourishes, and progressive ambitions. Listening to their work was entrancing, and sold me on getting out to see this tour—only to find out it will be their last. If that is not essence of bittersweet, I don’t know what is. It’s also a call to action to anyone else who has yet to see them, in what is an ideal pairing with Owel.

Listening to both bands is like meeting members of a family independently of one another, unaware they are relatives. If Owel is the member of the family that projects an intense emotional vulnerability and leans towards melancholy, the Soil & the Sun is the thoughtful dreamer, who seems to emanate an otherworldly warmth that comforts and inspires. The sophistication with which each family member communicates their emotional messages is a reflection of their shared lineage. Judging by the fruit, the tree that bore them is deeply rooted and well nourished. Come, partake. | Willie E. Smith

Full tour dates are below:

11.16 | Double Happiness, Columbus, OH
11.17 | MOTR Pub, Cincinnati
11.18 | Beat Kitchen, Chicago
11.19 | Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids
11.20 | Off Broadway, St. Louis
11.22 | Fitzgerald’s, Houston
11.23 | Three Links,, Dallas
11.25 | Backbooth, Orlando
11.26 | Crowbar, Tampa
11.27 | 1904 Music Hall, Jacksonville
11.28 | Palmetto Brewing, Charleston, SC
11.29 | Purgatory at Masquerade, Atlanta
11.30 | The End, Nashville
12.01 | Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC
12.02 | Songbyrd, Washington, DC
12.03 | House of Independents, Asbury Park, NJ

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