Title - 'The Night Owl'
Artist - Escaping Pavement
The phrase, Escaping Pavement means more to singer-songwriters Emily Burns and Aaron Markovitz than their band’s name; they see it as a life mantra. “In this very technology-based day and age, we feel it is more important now than ever to hold on to the things that ground us and remind us we’re all in this together,” says Emily.
The Detroit, MI-based duo, which arose from the ashes of a quartet, recently released their sophomore project, The Night Owl - and boy, is it good.
The Night Owl is a compilation of stories about life’s complexities and the ways we handle them. Themes such as the search for true happiness, the loss of a loved one, and the aftermath of a tragedy are found throughout the record. The album begins with the gently guitar strumming of 'Wanderers', before heading into both the rueful 'Sweetest Lady' and the upbeat bluegrass new age feel of 'Fuel The Fire'.
The laid-back mandolin-themed 'Dumb Luck' is next and, for me personally, is one of the true stand out highlights of this delightful, rich album. A cover of Bob Dylan's 1963 cut 'Girl From The North Country' is next and, once again, it's Aaron's vocals that steer the track home perfectly. Combining some flirtatious mandolin work, re-harmonization's, and a chance for Emily to vocally come to the fore also, the track pays its dues to the original; whilst always remaining its own.
The subtle string work and melodies of 'Mary' is next, before a real pair of beauties come forth. The first is 'Derailed' ("Suffer in silence, inside these four walls like an island"), a feisty, hard driving bluegrass gem of a track that truly personifies everything great about the band, but then, well, wow - a re-imagined cover of one of my favorite ever John Lennon songs, 'Watching The Wheels'. I have to admit I was skeptical going into its listening, being that the last thing I wanted was for this one song to tarnish my thus-far good memories of this album, as a whole, but I needn't have worried. For 'Watching The Wheels' done by Escaping Pavement is wonderful, absolutely magnificent. As fresh, as inspired, as crisp as it should be here today in 2016 (some 35 years on).
Along next is '3 Weeks', a song that advocates the freedom of mind to do whatever it is you want to do, and that's backed by the title track, a song that has been noted as actually being one of the last songs written for the album. Reminiscent of a traditional hymn, 'The Night Owl' is basically an upbeat spoken word musical reveal about how the Owl is a symbol of wisdom; both within folklore and mythology. The album then comes, sadly, to a close with both 'Silver Lining' (based on the Japanese proverb: "My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon."), and then the smooth twangy baritone guitar and pedal steel ride home of 'Leave The Light On'.
Being hailed as, “One of the best Americana bands out of Detroit, Michigan,” Escaping Pavement hopes to spread its roots-based message far beyond its home state. With a lengthy summer 2016 tour, the pair will be taking their “Americana-master blend” to the west coast and back making stops in Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, California, Missouri and many more.