From the Piney Woods of East Texas, singer-songwriter Kelly Wayne Conley and his trusty sidekick, guitar prodigy Cole Humphrey, are having fun and making a splash with their indie folk-rock project Owen-Glass. In a highly saturated indie rock market, Owen-Glass stands out not only with its smart lyrics and tight harmonies, but also with its textured soundscapes and crazy multi-instrumental solos. Wild rock violin, big alto saxophone, ‘70s-style keys and electric mandolin are held together with a master rhythm section comprising Conley, David Beck and Dees Stribling. The debut album The Rope & The Rabbit defies the conventions of genre and maintains an alarming degree of stylistic cohesiveness and high levels of broad-audience listenability.
In 2017, Conley and Humphrey teamed up with Central Texas’s David Beck and Dees Stribling (Sons of Fathers, Blue Healer, David Beck’s Tejano Weekend) and called in Craig Conley (Dallas, TX), Anthony Earl (Medford, OR), and Eric Ostberg (Harrison, AR) to handle bass, drums, keys, saxophone and violin, respectively—a lineup Conley describes as “an all-star band of the very best musicians [he has] encountered over the last ten years in music.” The album was produced and engineered by David Beck, mixed by Beck, Conley and James Campbell at Cibolo Studios in San Antonio, TX, and mastered by Evan Bradford (The Avett Brothers, Dierks Bentley, Dawes) of Mixtown USA in Los Angeles, CA.
Of working with Conley, Bradford says: “I truly enjoyed working on his music and am honored to have been a part of this album. I personally find it difficult to box music into really specific genres, but I also feel that the best songs and albums don’t necessarily fit into a nice little box, and this definitely falls into that category for me. There is clearly a theme and concept that threads the whole album together, and I love how it speaks to me.”
Growing up in gospel-rich East Texas has no small influence on Conley’s writing style and harmony-driven vocal arrangements, as heard in “Devil Don’t Mind,” an Americana-Gospel folk track appearing third on the album. In studio, Conley recruited his own mother, Donna Conley, and his aunt, Stacy Caldwell of the 1980s East Texas gospel trio The Armstrong Sisters to provide backing vocals.
In all, Owen-Glass produces a mysterious and intriguing sound, providing a little something for everyone while maintaining a cohesive character and a rare and refreshing authenticity that leaves fans wanting more.
The Rope & The Rabbit was just released on May 10, 2019.