Dylan Owen – Keep Your Friends Close

Honesty is a spectacular thing. It’s disarming. It’s enlightening. It makes a number of potential shortcomings forgivable. It’s something Dylan Owen has in abundance. “Keep Your Friends Close EP” is the 20-year-olds latest work. It may contain as many cliches as the title suggests, but they’re cliches because they’re true, right? Either way it is difficult to deny the sincerity that underpins the EP. Some would argue the subject matter is trivial against the backdrop of the difficulties others have to face. They miss the point. Everything is relative. Everyone has their own dramas and challenges. In absolute terms they differ hugely between people, but to each individual they seem of equal magnitude. If Dylan wants to rap about his experiences with emotion, with tight production and to great effect, then why stop him?

“Dear present time, this is it…” Begins the EP. Immeadiately there’s a heartfelt wisdom to the lyrics. Add to that fleeting piano chords and on-beat percussion, set against a soaring echoing backdrop. All alongside a powerful change in intensity and emotion. “Bookmarks” is a gripping start. The title track comes close to perfection. Passionate, powerful, and spoilt. “I’ll always back you up, like external hard drives” is cringe-inducing, but that’s not to say you won’t be singing along to it. “Ghosts” and “Garden Of The Angels” are introspective laments fuelled by piano and strings respectively. “The Comeback Home” is all upbeat acoustic gutiar and choral chants coupled to dense beats. It carries a message many can relate to. Take that Pitchfork and your claims of hermetic “frat rap”.

The EP is broken up by a number of well chosen features. Kinetics brings a darker side out of Owen. “In The Corner” is menacing and a little unnerving. There is a complete change in vocal timbre from Dylan Owen, which serves as perfect accompaniment to the echoing beat and piercing refrain. Kinetics’ verse proves a refreshing contrast. Acoustic artist Regina Zaremba joins for a sing-a-long in “Landmarks”. Her honeyed tones juxtaposed against the poignant lyrics, “But perhaps we can pretend all our scars are invisible tattoos and decorate our bodies with all the bad things we’ve been through.” A dusting of folk is provided by Aidan Cooper on “Lonely Mexico”. The subject matter is obvious from the title. It may be a similar message shared throughout the preceding 9 tracks. Through a combination of diverse instrumentation and captivating storytelling Dylan Owen has managed to keep the message as fresh and meaningful as it was half an hour previously. “Welcome To The Crossroads” is the perfect title for the closing track. It’s been a cathartic journey. Now it’s decision time.

Download “Keep Your Friends Close EP”

Dylan Owen – Bookmarks [right-click to download]

Dylan Owen – Garden of the Angels [right-click to download]

Dylan Owen – In The Corner (Feat. Kinetics) [right-click to download]