Jackson Owens was born in Turangi, but is these days living in LA, where he moved when just 16 to become part of US boy band Far Young.
Having recently decided to pursue his first solo project Owens has the experience from a plethora of performances, including with Kiwi legends such as Six60 and Stan Walker, to help it hit hard, as he does with his seven-track EP ‘For The Better’.
First song, Can’t Make It Right, is classic Kiwi RnB that’s reminiscent of a number of Six60 tracks. The bass can only be described as phat, with crunchy and compressed deep frequencies that punch through to the centre of the sound. Supported by a thick wall of layered harmonies Owens’ confident vocals cut through with clarity.
The Weekend takes the energy way down to a more soulful feel with a breathy vocal tone enhanced by long reverb. The backing is stripped of bells and whistles, with just a mellow drum pattern, held chords, and tasteful electric guitar licks left to carry the vocals. Fittingly, it does feel like something you would want to listen to on the weekend, maybe fireside contemplating the intricacies of a relationship.
Starting with just electric guitar and vocals, the vulnerable Have I stays simple until about two-thirds of the way through when some deep bass enters the mix alongside some more beautifully layered harmonies. We Always continues the instrumental simplicity but is contrastingly much more rhythmic with faster-paced lyric placement and interesting vocal melodies.
Caption features Kiwi rapper and urban poet Bronson Price, aka Melodownz. The song starts with Owens’ questioning lyrics matched to an easy-going percussive groove, until Melowdownz brings a new flavour with his poetic rap introducing a unique density to the song without taking it too far from its contemplative, almost dreamy starting point.
The EP’s many different kinds of energy create an easy-to-follow ebb and flow. All the tracks are RnB in essence but, as The Weekend has hints of jazziness, things come to a close with the funky Mind Control, and positive acoustic strummed vibe of Better With You bringing things back where the work began, with a message of gratitude for those who are there for you no matter what.