Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Owen Ashworth has previously regaled us with gray, cold sadness, made it seem as if it were the fuel and energy that kept the characters in his songs running, albeit on the weakest of fumes. They were still working spoons and forks and cups to their mouths, feeding their pitiful bodies with nutrients, maybe just to steady the hunger pangs rather than supplying nourishment for sagging will and spirit. The man behind the one-person outfit of Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, still keeps close company with lonesomeness and snake-bitten people who are not working with the best days of their lives when he channels their sorrows into his songs of programmed backbeats, synthesizers and a molasses-like voice that offers precise and studied stories of aching sullenness. Ashworth is a mastermind of dramas that begin and never really end, ones that continue to gnaw and groan, that go one giving madness and depression to all those who come in contact with them. They are everlasting tales of the kinds of sadness that never leave a body alone, just remind them that things aren't ever as easy as you thought they'd be - if you've ever been so audacious enough to think that they'd be easy in the first place. On his latest record, "Vs. Children," Ashworth taps into the minds of unlikely criminals, ones with alibis that eventually get tipsy and topple like a house of cards, but prior to that they carry out bank robberies and stick-em-ups that somehow sound as desperate and lonely as they should be understood. They're as weepy and dead-end as an overcast sky and empty promises. They are already well on their way to their unhappy endings by the time they get started and you feel incredible empathy for these people just looking for ways of quick improvement to their meager existences. Whether that's money or love, they'll do anything to give it a shot, to make a play on it just to see if that's what it will take to pick themselves up and out of the muddy mud. Many of the songs are raised from true stories that he's come across in magazines or plucked from his real life - the protagonist from "Tom Justice, The Choir Boy Robber, Apprehended at Ace Hardware in Libertyville, IL" is a former co-worker of his as a theater in California. He digs into what he thinks they were feeling - mostly that desperation that he tends to appreciate for its tendency to force the hand of people into doing things that are so far out of character for them that the results are breathtaking and equally hard to look at. Tom Justice is a particularly captivating character, who smiles when the Feds finally catch him red-handed and Ashworth captures his essence in such a beautiful poignant way with the line, "You know they called you choir boy, the way you cleared those safes/But you only ever bowed your head to keep your face off those tapes," that you can't help but to be smitten with the grayness as well, appreciating what makes good people go sad.
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone Official Site