AD­VANCE BASE

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - — Robert Ker

An­i­mal Com­pan­ion­ship (Orindal Records) In 1997, Owen Ash­worth be­gan record­ing as Ca­siotone for the Painfully Alone, mak­ing bed­room pop as bare, hon­est, and bor­der­line-emo as his adopted moniker. In 2010, he ex­changed the name for Ad­vance Base, and as mid­dle age drew nearer (he is now forty-one), his singing be­gan to em­body the world-weari­ness that his mu­sic of­ten con­veyed, and his lyrics seemed to spring from a deeper well of ex­pe­ri­ence. When he con­sid­ers divorce (the stun­ning “Dolores & Kim­berly”) or an ill friend in a re­cov­ery process (“Christ­mas in Night­mare City”) on his new al­bum, his words are not just sung but felt. He may have upped his pro­duc­tion val­ues from his Ca­siotone days, but his for­mula re­mains sim­i­lar: A sim­ple key­board melody runs up and down as if pac­ing around the room, and he sing-speaks over the top, achiev­ing the melan­choly of the last lonely hour of a dance, af­ter all the con­fetti has fallen. He’s a Chicago mu­si­cian who sings about In­di­ana fre­quently on this record, and there is some­thing Mid­west­ern about his work; it’s plain­spo­ken and able to con­vey a cin­e­matic feel with min­i­mal tools. “Your Dog,” a song in which he runs into an ex-lover’s ex­cited dog out­side a café, shows the range of his song­writ­ing gifts. With ter­rific wit, Ash­worth trans­forms a series of mun­dane de­tails about cof­fee, eye­glass repairs, and dog parks into a pro­found mo­ment, end­ing with a bark.

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