HBS – In Deep Owl

HBS - In Deep Owl

HBS – In Deep Owl

Ben Shepherd was Soundgarden’s bass player from 1990 until their break-up in 1997. The Japan born bassist hit a rough patch after Soundgarden decided to call it quits. As he told the magazine Spin: “Soundgarden broke up; my other band, Hater, broke up; my fiancée broke up with me; and then I broke three ribs. I got addicted to pain pills, drank a ton, and wound up OD’ing on morphine. I was laid out in my house for five days, and no one knew it. It was a fucking horrible time – this total rock & roll cliché.”

Now with Soundgarden reunited and on tour, promoting the well received album King Animal (amazing!) and Ben’s first solo record freshly released, the talented musician seems to be doing a lot better. His journey to hell and back has however proven to be a interesting basis for his solo record.
Like the last Soundgarden album, this is not a piece of art that you will appreciate immediately. It takes a few spins of the record to get used to this sound and style, something I would call in a nutshell timeless grown up grunge.
It almost feels like an older man playing like a kid and goofing around with instruments and a tape recorder on his attic but you can feel the hidden knowledge of a seasoned musician. The album is versatile in song styles but holds is own as an absurd collection of songs that sounds like it could’ve been made 40 years ago as well as last year.

A lot of the songs feel like an early Tom Waits and a recent Leonard Cohen in an acoustic grungy coating. From time to time it even reminds me of the stonerrock of The Dandy Warhols (‘Loose Ends’) and the strange sounds and unconventional instruments even wink to Rocco DeLuca from time to time. In songs such as ‘Veritas’ and ‘Baron Robber’ you can hear faint reflections of Soundgarden but the general sound of production and, of course, the voice is so completely different that you won’t make the connection unless you know of it in advance.

All in all an interesting album by an interesting musician. It’s definitely not for everyone but I urge you to give the album a second change if you’re not impressed on first listen, you might like what’s underneath the surface.


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