I grew up in a vehemently anti-country music household. By the time I had matured and developed my own musical preferences, the state of popular country music was mostly dismal. It’s only recently that I’ve really started to explore country music and figure out what I do and don’t like about it (these days I’m a sucker for pretty much anything with a banjo in it). Although not completely and 100% “country” in the strictest sense, Owls by Nature has recently been added to my list of country “dos.” Their latest album, Everything is Hunted is the right amount of country fused with rock.
When listening to the Canadian group, a lot of comparisons come to mind. At times, I was reminded of Johnny Cash, Manchester Orchestra, and even, at one point, Bright Eyes. The astonishing thing is that all if these wonderful resemblances seem natural; no part of Everything is Hunted comes off as contrived or calculated. The whole album is an effortless fusion of classic country guitar riffs and raw rock-inspired, twang-free vocals. In my opinion, it’s an example of the best incarnation of country music.
One of the most winsome qualities of Everything is Hunted is the range of the album. There are songs about heartache: “Heartbreaking Ways” sounds like a drunken phone call to your ex. There are songs about devotion: “Ferris Wheel” is a love song that would almost be too cutesy if it weren’t executed with the perfect country-rock vibe. There are also songs about friendship: “Alcoholics” is a tongue-in-cheek song about camaraderie through drinking. The album is incredibly well-rounded.
“New City” is an incredibly remarkable track on the album; a little over halfway through the album, the tone changes dramatically with the track, which starts off so much more subdued than the rest of Everything is Hunted. It’s captivating and haunting. Those qualities make it one of the most outstanding tracks on the album.
Country music isn’t for everybody; currently popular country music is not the best the genre has to offer. Even now, I’m still a little lukewarm on country. But Owls by Nature has crafted an album that has masterfully combined country with my much beloved rock music. It has pulled me a little closer to the classification of “country fan.” And yes, there are plenty of banjos to be heard with this fun, raw, powerful album.