Review: “About Time” by Owen Paul-McGee (CD, 2001)

Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 2001 second album About Time by 1980’s pop rock star Owen Paul-McGee, better known as Owen Paul. Does this album sound like perfect timing, or is it stuck in the 80s? Read on…

Owen Paul-McGee - About Time (2001) album cover
Owen Paul-McGee – About Time (2001) album

This 12 track album opens with a fade in to It Could Happen. Electric guitar roars in a few notes, over some gentle violins and percussive sounds. This is a slow track, allowing Owen’s voice to shine. He is instantly recognisable from his last album in the 1980s. The layers of guitars here are a joy to hear, and at times in the chorus it begins to sound a little vocally like Liam Gallagher of Oasis before becoming more subdued again. This is an uplifting gentle start, and it sounds lovely.

Next up is All About You, led by more luscious acoustic guitars. A soft drum beat lingers in the background as a somewhat hypnotic guitar delicately plays alongside a piano. Owen’s vocals cut right over the top – confident and clear – and giving you some of that power and range that we know he can deliver. This track appears to have been released as a single, given that it has a full video.

We’re straight into I Want It All, which is a track with a wonderful chugging sound to it thanks to the bass and drums. Again, Owen’s vocals are on top form, and he gets some great opportunities in this song to show off, and the chorus is simple and pretty catchy. Musically, much like the previous tracks, it is rich with layers of instruments, making it sound very slick and warm.

Echoes In The Dark is next, aptly starting with some kind of echoed percussion. This slower track pitches Owen against oodles of guitar, and the vocal harmonies really adds a warmth to this gentle song.

Now on to Millionaire, which was released as a single. This track has a much more upbeat feel. It races along wonderfully, and Owen gets another opportunity to show off his vocals in the chorus. There’s a playful silence and false ending before the track changes gear and heads for a roaring finale and drum smash. Great stuff!

Soon brings the tempo back down again. Owen and acoustic guitar leads us in, whilst a brooding synth (i think) gurgles in the background. He’s joined by some wonderful strings, which add a wonderful warmth to the track alongside the percussion. As if that’s not enough, Booga (Cameron McVey) is here too on acoustic guitars to help things along. At about 3m 5s Owen really lets rip with his amazing rock vocals as the orchestra is unleashed. The end result is magnificent on the ears.

The orchestra continues seamlessly into Here’s Looking At You. This starts off beautifully, with some flute thrown in alongside them as the guitars pick up. Those strings continue to build with the song. This results in a wonderful slow track.

That’s followed by Breathe In Breathing Deep. This is a dreamy acoustic mid-tempo song. Owen puts in some soft and tender vocals atop a repeating acoustic guitar sequence. It’s musically almost a lullaby.

Ten Things I Didn’t Do follows that and the tempo is back up, and so is the energy. Briefly I thought I caught a tease of Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman track near the start before it swiftly headed off to safety. The song has that energy and is even playful as everything slows down in the middle before bursting back again.

Up next is Grieving/Forever Dreaming opens with harmonica. This is seemly two conjoined tracks weighing in at 10 minutes long. The first part, Grieving, is aptly more downbeat, heartfelt, and laden with perfectly placed backing vocals. The track builds up as the sadness comes to a head, with a piano leading us into Forever Dreaming. This part of this combined song reminds me a little of Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel. The song is simple, with Owen being joined by violin and flute. These two songs feel immensely personal.

The album closes with The One, which lifts us back up again. This track appears to have been released as the album’s lead single. It’s a nice and mellow mid-tempo song. Owen’s vocals effortlessly deliver, taking the chorus to show off more of his vocal range.

But wait… there’s another song tucked in at the end. This is the titular About Time, which amusingly arrives late after 3 minutes of silence. The track fades in, loaded with guitar, harmonica, violins, upbeat vocals, and religion. This is quite a catchy foot-tapper of a little song, so it’s sad it’s not on the artwork. It’s a nice ending to the album.

Owen Paul’s ‘The One’ single.

Verdict

Over all, this album is a delight. You might not know any of the songs here, but there’s enough here in Owen’s voice and energy to deliver you safely from his huge 80’s hit My Favourite Waste Of Time, to this album.

Here, his musical sound, and songwriting seems to maturely perfectly. He’s joined by flawless musicianship, resulting in something that would appeal to those who are perhaps fans of the likes of Coldplay, James Blunt, and a few Oasis tracks. That said, it’s still uniquely Owen who beams throughout.

This album is a little unusual, in that the artist doesn’t appear to acknowledge it on their own website, instead releasing an About Time II instead in 2014. That oddity aside, this is a magnificent evolution from his debut album As It Is into a richer, fuller, more mature sound.

Rated 4 stars - You're missing a treat!
  • POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 4 / 5
  • 2001 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Didn’t chart in the UK.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £3.24 from an eBay seller.

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