Since releasing 2009's New Leaves shortly after the birth of his daughter, Mike Kinsella (American Football, Cap'n Jazz) has had to embrace the untraditional role of being a stay-at-home father -- a situation that has invariably led him to ruminate on the passing of his own father and their strained relationship.
As such, Ghost Town finds Kinsella ridding his proverbial closet of lingering presences.
"At some point in the process of writing the album, I realized I had a lot of references to ghosts," says Kinsella. "So instead of trying to hide or downplay the similarity amongst several of the songs, I decided to highlight it. Make it a theme of sorts."
But as lyrics like "You know I'm still pissed after a life tempestuous / Unless you can rise from the dead, I'll die like this" reveal, these are ghosts that won't go away quietly.
Perhaps that is why Ghost Town features some of Owen's loudest, rock-leaning moments to date -- exemplified by the forcefully crescendoing outro of "I Believe" and the screeching electric guitar solo in "Everyone's Asleep in the House but Me."
And because recording of the album began last summer, its drum fills and back beats were certainly influenced by Kinsella's time behind the kit during Cap'n Jazz's 2010 reunion tour.
As he reveals, "I recorded most of the drums last August, right in the middle of all the Cap'n Jazz shows, so I'm sure I was hitting the drums a little harder at the time than I have in years."
That Ghost Town proves to be yet another step toward a new musical direction should come as no surprise to those who have followed Owen's songwriting evolution from sparse acoustic offerings (on his self-titled debut) to lush, string-filled arrangements (At Home With Owen, New Leaves).
With production by Brian Deck (Iron & Wine) and Neil Strauch (Bonnie 'Prince' Billy), the songs on Ghost Town become as beautifully fleshed-out as Kinsella finds the lyrical apparitions he confronts to be frustratingly lacking substance.
As a result, the record serves to reincarnate the souls haunting Kinsella -- enabling him to achieve closure and move forward with the next chapter of his life.
"Beautifully haunting, extremely emotive, and deeply personal…arguably his best writing to date."