An album review by Teen Blogger, Jonathan
Adam Young, better known as lead singer, writer, producer, and - well, everything else - of the electronica act Owl City, is one of my absolute favourite musicians. He has the talent of being able to write songs that leave the listener with a complex mix of emotions, usually with happiness or peacefulness at the forefront and a bittersweet array of other feelings underneath. Some of the best examples of this can be found on the album An Airplane Carried Me to Bed, which he released under the alias Sky Sailing.
This album started as a collection of songs recorded by Adam Young before Owl City even started, although they weren’t released until 2010. Because of the different name and relative obscurity, this album slips under the radar of many Owl City fans, but in my opinion, it is some of Adam Young’s best work.
The most noticeable feature of Sky Sailing is its emphasis on acoustic instruments. Every song features multiple acoustic guitar parts, as well as drums and piano on most tracks. Synth parts are instead used to back up these instruments, creating a unique blend of electronic and acoustic sounds throughout the album. An outstanding example of this is “I Live Alone”, where as many as 6 unique guitar parts are layered over one another, while a warm synth bass pulses underneath. With audio alone, it creates a feeling akin to lying under a warm blanket on a cold winter evening, with the very last rays of the sunset poking through the blinds. This is paired with soft-spoken lyrics about the different places life can take you, and wondering how it might have gone differently, although that’s just my interpretation.
Speaking of lyrics, Adam Young’s signature lyrical style is in full swing on this album.
This style involves never making it clear exactly what he’s talking about and giving a general atmosphere instead, letting the listener imagine the rest. In songs like “Captains of the Sky” and “Tennis Elbow”, clever wordplay, child-like imagination, and sometimes what seems like utter nonsense create a series of carefree, cheerful images for the listener.
“Midair / I woke up beneath the flight deck of a wallpaper airplane / As you stared, I strapped my helmet on and left your driveway behind.” (Captains of the Sky).
Others like “Blue and Red” give the listener a feeling of weightless drifting, in a way that seems both hopeful and sad.
“Leave the open sky and the deep / shades overhead of blue and red / Is this the end? Or will you come back again?” (Blue and Red).
Other songs, like the aforementioned “I Live Alone,” and my personal favourite, “Brielle,” tell sentimental stories of moving on in life, and the inherent feelings of possibility and uncertainty that come with that.
“I wish I knew when I’ll be back again / but until then I wish you well / my dear Brielle.”
All of these feelings are so expertly crafted, entwining with the music to create some of the most beautiful sounds I can think of.
The sole negative comment I can say about this album is that some people might be turned off by the use of auto-tune for the majority of the album’s vocals. It’s certainly not as overt as the auto-tune used by some pop artists, but it’s still noticeable. I personally don’t have a problem with it, however, as Adam has proven that he can sing without it, and as a stylistic decision, it only adds to the blend of electronic and acoustic sounds across the album.
Overall, this album is a beautiful piece of music, and it’s one of my favourites. Whether you’re a fan of Owl City or similar artists, or just a fan of music in general, I would highly recommend checking it out.