Singer-songwriter Owen Beverly is learning how to kick it on his own as Indianola. He recently starred in Solo Project, a Lost Pilot film about a fictional indie rocker who hustles to make it as a solo performer along the cobblestone back streets of Copenhagen. The story doesn’t sound too out of the blue, given its semblance to Beverly’s own multichapter background.
The Mississippi native grew up around Delta blues lore and spent formative summers under the tutelage of musicians much older and grizzlier than him. He eventually moved out to Charleston and later to New York City, where he became a touring member of the Danish act Oh Land—aiding the globetrotter production of semi glossed electro-pop. Beverly makes a prodigal return to Americana and the acquired musical values of his youth with Zero, a five track EP produced by Michael Trent of the sloppy-tonk duo, Shovels and Rope.
The old stomping ground is unearthed immediately, as the title track clamors into percussive rock ‘n’ roll. Beverly’s quaver rises to the surface in “Heartstrings,” a distinctly beautiful track that turns love into a game of cat’s cradle. He tightens the loops and casts string figures, a shape-shifter made malleable by his own affection. The poeticism of his lyrics is simple, yet effective—pitching lines like “I feel like I’m tied in knots and I got tangled in the stitching.”
As he tries to untangle a latticework of emotion, Beverly finds himself up against bigger spiral chains in “Gettin’ Loose”—suddenly poised on a tight rope and in the chokehold of a short leash. His music is wise beyond its years, often projecting the tired cognizance of someone who has already see too much. He sings about breaking free from the wife and kids, from the kind of nuclear family lifestyle that seems farfetched for someone who’s been touring the world with a Scandinavian pixie for the past few years. The thing is, the matured, cellar-cured instrumentation and vocals make it all believable—as if Beverly has been roaming this earth for centuries to perfect his bluesy lamentation.
When he says “I don’t feel anything anymore,” in “Zero,” the words cut deeper that anything we’ve heard on the EP yet. It takes certain formulaic persistence to make a song that can successfully provoke tear ducts, and Beverly pulls it off with deceptively simple acoustic lines and a grainy holler. “I don’t trust anyone anymore,” he finally confesses, folding and plummeting like a broken wing from its flight of fancy.
Zero reveals Owen Beverly in his final form, a Southern boy stripped of European affectations and handed the old-school baton. He makes a grassroots venture and gathers its best inspirations—all the dewy-eyed window gazing, the traditions, the sweet and admittedly fucked up Faulknerian charm. Beverly gives us some of the most personal work of his career and better yet, he’s playing himself.