by Andrew Lockwood

After finding her musical feet in the world of production and subsequent single and EP releases under her own moniker, Owlle (real name France Picoulet) now shares her debut album, aptly titled ‘France’.

The early 80s influence that Owlle is so fond of can be heard throughout the album. Stand out track ‘Don’t Lose It‘ pairs a Human League/Pet Shop Boys keyboard backing with an intermittent ‘Small Town Boy‘ beat as she delivers a very sultry vocal to transport you back to the dance floor circa ’84. Elsewhere, you can almost hear Depeche Mode or Yazoo on ‘Silence‘, and even a slice of Madonna’s ‘Music‘ on ‘Creed‘.The thirteen tracks are an impressive collection of electro infused and mellowed out dance that include her breakthrough number from 2012, ‘Ticky Ticky’. Owlle’s vocals are arguably the most influential element that tie everything on ‘France‘ up very nicely indeed. Veering between the light and airy pop of ‘Ticky Ticky‘ to something altogether more seductive and velvety on ‘Don’t Lose It’, they act as the cohesive binding agent through the mix of synths, keys, bass beats and strings of the varied arrangements.

By Owlle‘s own definition, she describes her music as Dream Pop and nowhere can this be heard more evidently than on the hazy trance of Twin Peaks throwback, Julee Cruise-like ‘Your Eyes’. ‘France’ is not just about borrowed or twisted retrospective influences though, it’s still a very dynamic and multidimensional album. The latest single, ‘Fog’, has a far more contemporary feel. From the steadily building beats, the more considered layered vocal treatment and the deftly accented backing, you not only get to appreciate Owlle’s production skills but also her talent as an artist in her own right. Showing she’s not all electro/dance pop either, Owlle also delivers up a touching ballad in the form of ‘Free’ and displays just how well her songs stand up without the beats and bleeps, with a stunning acoustic version of ‘Silence’ as the penultimate album track.

As debuts go, ‘France‘ is unlikely to grab headlines but it is an accomplished piece of work threaded through with the delicate touches of a talented artist. Owlle’s album is very listenable and she herself should, if nothing else, definitely be on your ‘ones to watch’ list.

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