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Music Review - 'Existential Frontier' White Owl Red (dm)

White Owl Red - Existential Frontier (

10 July 2019



The ambition of White Owl Red’s new record, “Existential Frontiers,” is as grand as its title. Singer/Songwriter J. Josef McManus, the chief creative force behind White Owl Red, has crafted an album of philosophy meets alt. country.

McManus’ thoughtful and substantive lyrics feel like the focus of the record, and in the title track, “See Through Me,” and “Union Fight Song,” he succeeds in provoking thought on topics as far-ranging and formidable as romantic intimacy, class struggle, and the everlasting search for meaning in human experience. His straightforward vocal delivery in a deep, southern drawl recalls James McMurtry, but there is more to “Existential Frontiers” than skillful lyrics and storytelling. The impressive instrumentalists elevate the record into an exhibition of musical excellence and energy.

Kyle Caprista’s keeps a steady beat, and adds enough flare and fills to make the largely simple songs unpredictable, while the guitar work of Gawain Mathews is emotive and dynamic.

“Existential Frontiers” could use some abridgment. At 14 songs, it begins to feel a little lengthy, but there are more than enough highlights – including the surprise of a punky rocker, “I’m a Saint,” to make the record entertaining and inspiring.



 David Masciotra



David Masciotra ( is the author of four books, including Barack Obama: Invisible Man (Eyewear Publishing, 2017) and Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky, 2015).

To read all of David's reviews, click here 





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