Six years ago Owen Davies and his band the Evangelists recorded Pasta on the Moon, and it’s only now seeing the light of day. Thank god it has.
My grand theory on co-workers and friend groups is that the original incarnation always loses a little bit of magic when people start to leave. Co-workers and friends will change, but you’ll always yearn for when everything was “perfect.” No doubt Owen Davies has fond memories of his now-dissolved backup band, the Evangelists. Six years ago they recorded Pasta on the Moon, and it’s only now seeing the light of day. Thank god it has.
This, of course, isn’t to say Owen Davies is somehow weaker with a different band — albums like 2019’s Lollipop Pumpkinhead still linger in my mind — but there’s a special kind of fire in the compositions of John Mavro, David Lewis, Landon Kotchapaw, Diego Las Heras, and Jeff D. Elliott. Songs like “Birthday Cake” and “Caroline” stretch past five minutes, with minutes in each of those songs just filled with pure instrumental bliss, only increasing in intensity as time goes on. “Thundercloud” moves forward with the energy of a thundercloud about to shoot lightning bolts. The lyricless “Incidental Music” feels like a more structured jam, five minutes of increasingly complex crescendo.
Just as with the albums Davies released after recording Pasta on the Moon, there’s a mixture of contemplative and raw lyrics, with the rawness especially coming into play on the last two songs. “Duchovny Day,” anchored by some excellent saxophone from David Switchenko, begins with a doozy of an opening salvo: “My ego went and died today/Saw itself and passed away.” Davies then stops looking inward and directs his attention to a former love, and you can almost feel him choking up as he sings “I wish you the best/I worship at your bed.”
There’s a deep hurting in the nine-minute epic “Caroline” (with pedal steel by Michael Feuerstack), where Davies sings early: “Don’t tell me ‘bout your mental state/I know you’re just as fucked up as ever.” The title Pasta on the Moon comes from a line in this song that is so withering I’d rather not “spoil” it in this review. As Davies works himself through his feelings, he finally asks “Was I really in love with you?” He comes to an answer a few seconds later, but then allows four minutes of instrumentals to wash over his thoughts before the final two lines that wrap up the emotional odyssey.
It’s a shame that it’s taken so long for this record to get out into the world, but it’s another worthy entry into the Owen Davies gospel. No matter who he collaborates with, there’s an inimitable energy in every song.