The Owl and the Full Moon
Artist: Adam Marsland
Produced by: Karma Frog
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
West Coast man-of-all-music-trades Adam Marsland has had quite an interesting decade and a half. A singer, songwriter, musician and producer, Marsland had a successful career as a front man for the punk/power pop band Cockeyed Ghost before deciding to hang it all up for some behind the scenes work. He began working as an instrumentalist, arranger, engineer, etc for such notable bands as the Beach Boys, Wrecking Crew, Stew, Three Dog Night, Earth, Wind and Fire and more. Now, more than three years since he abandoned his singer/songwriter career, Adam Marsland has returned to his roots with The Owl and the Full Moon.
According to Marsland, the idea for the title song of the album came from a hike in Santa Monica: “I was up in the Santa Monica Mountains hiking. It was after dark, warm, beautiful night, huge moon out, and an owl flew over my head and perched on a nearby tree. I felt so at peace and inspired. And I went home and wrote the music to The Owl and the Full Moon and thought, 'when I get that feeling again, I'll finish the song, and maybe write a whole new album that's happy and inspirational and uplifting.'“
Unfortunately, it would be some time until he would return to writing music again. Marsland suffered from bouts of depression intermittently since 2005: “It started with this illness that never got diagnosed properly and never quite cleared up, though it got a lot better," Adam said. "It made me sluggish and sometimes it was hard to hear, and it really messed with my social life. I did get better but then every time I tried to make it back out into the world, something seemed to knock me back into my hole. I still did good work, but in terms of my life, somewhere along the line, I lost my confidence and ability to move forward.”
Adam Marsland took a long detour in his route to completing The Owl and the Full Moon, but once he returned to working on the album, there was no turning back. With no real vision for what the album should sound like, Marsland decided to just let the music come and see what happens. The resulting album is soulful and the style is reminiscent of some of the bands he worked behind the scenes with.
From the opening track, Contamination, I knew this album was going to be special. Marsland vocals were soulful and the background vocals and music track reminded me of music I liked to listen to when I was a kid. Sure, I’m dating myself, but I grew up listening to 70s funk, rock and soul and this first track reminded me of music I enjoyed way back when.
The title song, The Owl and the Full Moon, tells of the singer’s journey to find a space where he can belong, where he can be more than someone’s second place. I think this song speaks a great deal towards Marsland’s depression issues and his belief that he can overcome them. No One’s Ever Gonna Hear This Song is definitely influence by the Beach Boys and some of those 70s folk bands I listened to in my youth. I love this profound line in the lyrics: “Everybody loves you / if you don’t get in their way.”
Power Pop Days speaks of moving on from past petty concerns. As Marsland reminds us, “every time has its good and bad moments” - we have more important things to concern us in the here and now rather than holding on to the pain of the past. As the singer states, you “can’t move on if you can’t let go.” Man in An Empty Suit is a great soul meets funk track featuring brass instruments along with the guitars, percussion and keys. The following song, Don’t Laugh At How I Feel, is a bit self-explanatory in its meaning.
Then there’s the ballad I Wanna Be In Love that definitely has that 60s/70s feel in which the singer relates how nice it would be to be in love. He’s “been around, but it isn’t enough” to meet his needs. He’s tired of wandering and wants to find someone who can complete him. This ballad is followed by a bubblegum pop track with a very deep meaning. Happy Face is another one of those songs that describes what it is like for someone who is suffering from depression, but hiding it from the rest of the world.
To Be Human is a heart wrenching, soul searching song. The ending gets a little wild and reminded me of the middle of A Day in the Life by the Beatles. The final track, Song 11, speaks to Marsland’s newfound faith in himself. This is an upbeat song in which the singer reminds us that he may have lost his faith at one time, become a solitary man afraid to take a step towards healing, but now that he has, there’s no going back.
The Owl and the Full Moon is a story about Adam Marsland’s journey out from under depression and toward the sun of a brand new beginning. The music on the album is quite enjoyable. The style of the music will take listeners back to a much simpler time when things weren’t so stressful and we had more time to stop and smell the roses. Marsland’s lyrics are catchy and incredibly meaningful. This album appears to have been a healing experience for the musician, one that offers the listener hope, happiness and a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.