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"Owsley" has an interesting ring to it but unfortunately there isn't much to make their album sound interesting. The Hard Way is a collection of pretty solid pop/rock songs, but that's about it. It's basic, straightforward power pop - at least they're pretty decent at performing it.
"Be With You," is the first song on the album, and the title lets you know exactly what the song is going to be like: "I wanna know what it's like to believe in something… I wanna live my life like I hope I mean it… I wanna be with you," are lines that can't be too profound. A simple love song, echoing the hopes of someone at that critical point in their life is a pretty common topic in songwriting; yet, Owsley do a decent job of getting that across without wanting to make you stop listening.
Songs such as "Rise," "Matriarch," and "Rainy Day People," give the band a little room to come into their own. Each move away a little from the basic structure of the rest of the album, and has a unique sound unto its own. It's a good sign that the band has a feeling for what may become a more unique sound for them, yet it sounds like they're afraid to move away from the pop/rock sound that's the norm these days.
Owsley show some potential on The Hard Way, yet seem afraid to move away from the radio-friendliness that keeps them from being different. Their songs do not stand out from each other that much, and the overall sound of the band makes them blend in with the countless other groups that are trying to write a hit song.
Tom Fraher is a Contributing Writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.