Prodigal Songs

by Owlsley Burroughs

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The songs on Prodigal Songs are time capsules. Owlsley returned to his past and revived the best of his early work, believing it finally time these tunes were given their day in the sun.

Of course, Owlsley had already looked in the rear view mirror in 2013 with Through The Past Darkly. Prodigal Songs, however, is a different proposition entirely. These songs were not compiled from existing recordings, but recorded completely from scratch. They range over a period of 25 years and were either never recorded in the first place, only rendered in rough demo form or, as with a couple of cases, imminently releasable but for whatever reason lacked that final, magical ingredient.

Many of these songs Owlsley gave to other singers, thinking they might do a better job than he. Now they have come home to him, hence the album title.

Each song has a unique history, and maps a specific moment in Owlsley's long musical career, encompassing his solo and duo work and his bands Hoopiron, Tangled Eve, Short Term Hedonist, Ovagene, Lime, Gaylord Smith and The Sealords.

Click on each song to reveal its full story.

I consider Prodigal Songs to be amongst Owlsley's very best musical achievements, and visions of freshly unearthed hidden treasures come to mind when I hear these gems.

In my opinion, they sit very comfortably against his more recent work, and give vital clues as to how Owlsley Burroughs the artist came to be.

At first glance the album comprises essentially a group of disparate songs, but in fact there is a decided flow to its course when listened to in sequence. After a hopeful, even innocent and frivolous beginning, the music and its attendant subject matter gradually become darker, more troubled. Themes of disappointment, transgression and repentance emerge, then finally perhaps a sense of renewal.

The final result is a strange trip, at times affirming, at others unsettling, but always rewarding.

By Amanda Jane Bodycoat.

Cover art: The Chess Player: A Self-Portrait (detail) 2002. Oil on wood. By Steve G. Mileham III.


released January 1, 1902



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Owlsley Burroughs Melbourne, Australia

Owlsley Burroughs resides in the mysterious hills of Melbourne, Australia. His closest friends are the finches who flit gaily outside his window.

He is indifferent to performing and releases music whenever he pleases.

When not making music, Owlsley is listening to The Smiths, Bob Dylan, Bill Callahan and Kiss, or walking in the forest.

He loves cufflinks, coffee, cigars and eau de cologne.
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