Texan singer/songwriter Garrett Owen laments the constant connection and busy spirit of our digital age in “These Modern Times,” a gust of sweet, somber, and seductive folk.
Stream: “These Modern Times” – Garrett Owen
It’s one thing to think to yourself that these days are getting increasingly difficult, but another one entirely to have it sung right to you: To have the strain and stress of your everyday mirrored back so poignantly and succinctly in song. Texan singer/songwriter Garrett Owen laments the constant connection and busy spirit of our digital age in “These Modern Times,” a gust of sweet, somber, and seductive folk.
Lacin’ up my combat boots
cuz you never know what life will bring
Hop a fourteen hour flight
to a third world country that I won’t name
We could live out quiet lives
on a mountain top in the north of spain
We could die without wifi
No one would even know our names
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “These Modern Times,” the lead single off Garrett Owen’s forthcoming sophomore album Quiet Lives (out 9/18). Formally introducing himself in 2016 through a hauntingly melodic set of soft, honest, and lilting songs, Owen has many a song and story to tell: The son of a missionary, he grew up in Africa and struggled to assimilate to American life upon his family’s decision to resettle in the States. Music has always been a “source of life” for the Ft. Worth-based troubadour, whose raw, innermost feelings flow free each time he picks up his guitar and sings.
Owen’s music is classical singer/songwriter with a (dare we say?) “modern” twist: He writes from and to the heart, his impassioned vocal work and emotional finger-picking second only to his stunning, evocative lyricism. This talent is on full display in “These Modern Times,” as the artist reckons with the perils of our present-day, “always on” reality:
Here in these modern times
it’s magical and oh so sad
I wanna get lost in a book but my phone is all i seem to have
Right at my fingertips the endless options drive you mad
Here in these modern times it’s magical and sad
“The chorus was the first part I wrote,” Owen tells Atwood Magazine. “I just started singing in a stream of consciousness and ‘here in these modern times, it’s magical, oh so sad,’ etc. came out. I’d been feeling weird about how much we do on our phones all day. Tinder, ordering food, Facebook, texting, GPS, was driving me nuts. I came up with the rest of the verses after spending a lot of time on this little sliver of the Brazos (River) that some friends took me to. I started going there on my own once a week to just walk through the river for a couple of hours, swim by myself, and watch hawks circling for food.”
Owen’s trips down to the Brazos River represented an escape for him – a dip out of “modernity,” so to speak. It was his chance to get away from his notifications and contacts; the pings and dings of modern life. Out of that reflective space came a song not only cherishing those moments of solitude and isolation, but also countering the 24-hour news cycle and technology’s “always-on” ethos. The title of his new album, Quiet Lives, even echoes this desire for space and time to oneself.
Lookin’ for his quiet mind
He came alive through sticks and stone
Time on the river seemed to fill his soul like none before
Despite the calm release he seemed to long for somethin’ more
You can seek out solitude but sorrow creeps in through the floor
Last chorus: Here in these modern times it’s magical and so alone
I wanna get lost in a book but my brain got locked inside my phone
While “These Modern Times” is inherently Owen’s song to, for, and of himself, its lyrics speak to pretty much anyone and everyone with a smartphone. It fluidly captures and critiques our intimate addiction to technology, aching with a longing for times without constant contact and instant information – times when we had space to breath by ourselves, think on our own, and grow.
Meanwhile, its music juxtaposes periods of heavy instrumentation with sparse, far more delicate moments of acoustic grace. In a way, this duality brings to mind the intensity with which we lead our daily lives, and the sweet release we get from those seconds of sole solace.
As the lead single off Garrett Owen’s upcoming sophomore record, “These Modern Times” hints at even greater things to come. A catchy, heart-heavy rumination, the song is a faithful introduction to a sweet, uninhibited heartland record whose songs are a vessel of feeling, relief, and rejuvenation. Stay tuned for Quiet Lives, out September 18th, 2020, and for now stream “These Modern Times” exclusively on Atwood Magazine!
Stream: “These Modern Times” – Garrett Owen
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📸 © Melissa Laree Cunningham
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