Mike O’Dowd has said One Lover Leaves – an autobiographical album written during time spent in Montreal and Berlin – is “kind of like a breakup record”, during which individual songs document different stages of his recovery.
With its defeated vocal melody and atmospheric drone underscoring shimmering guitars, They Walked Past A Work Of Art (“…dying on the street”) navigates ‘WTF did I just do?’ second guessing.
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Languorous fingerpicking adds timeless appeal throughout O’Dowd’s accomplished debut record and he certainly loves a waltz rhythm! Featuring O’Dowd’s signature poetic lyricism – “In pain the sidewalk screams/ All your lover’s shattered dreams…” – opener Game Of Love’s sweeping tempo and lively, swinging drum pattern conjure Jeff Buckley’s Grace.
The scene that unfolds during Early Morning Rain, which finds our protagonist raining bullets (“In the early morning rain with a gun in my hand/ I shot my woman down…”), is startlingly at odds with O’Dowd’s soul-achingly sweet, earnest delivery.
“Women like flowers can wither and die…” – the yearning title track temporarily blooms with intricate, swirling drum patterns – midway through the arrangement – before resuming its melancholy, feet-dragging pace.
One Lover Leaves is a soothing listen, somewhat like watching slow TV. An appealing, itinerant troubadour, O’Dowd certainly is a worldly wordsmith (see: Mona Lisa, during which “courtesans” even score a mention). He’s one to watch, for sure.
One Lover Leaves is out September 29. Keep up to date with all things Mike O’Dowd by heading here.