Casiotone for the Painfully Alone: Etiquette (2006)

 |   |  2 min read

I Love Creedence
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone: Etiquette (2006)

If nothing else, you had to raise a smile at the nom-de-disque which American singer-songwriter Owen Ashworth adopted. It announces its lo-fi quality, and identifies its audience at the same time.

Clever and funny. But also ineffably sad.

And the songs on this quite remarkable album -- like short stories rendered as poetry and set to simple music -- managed to be all of that.

But mostly rather sad, stories about lives which hadn't worked out, frozen moments when life changed for the worse or the protagonist recognized it just too late . . .

Here are aching songs about a girl losing pearls from her grandmother's necklace at the disco ("Mom, don't cry they're only pearls" but of course we know that isn't why the mother is crying) and a lonely graduate in a damp room a long way from home whose life hasn't worked out ("second shift as a fry cook, that's your holiday in grease") on the beautiful Cold White Christmas.

There's an unromantic first sexual experience "not the way you'd imagined it, on a balcony with champagne lips" . . .

There is a deep and universal sadness in some of these songs which, when combined with the whole bedroom ethic of the thing, is moving and often heartbreaking.

If you don't feel your throat choke on I Love Creedence you are either too cynical or just aren't listening carefully enough to this story told by Creedence Clearwater Wright, "best friend of Elodie Eye".

In places on the album Ashworth hands vocal duties to the female voice of Jenn Herbison but this one he takes himself (although the liner notes say she is the voice of Creedence, the character singing) which renders these lines more interesting: "We laughed like we were queens, and split our ball gowns at the seams and every single time I'd dream it was only El and Me".

But when Elodie finds a boyfriend Creedence is cut off ("I swear it felt like a divorce"). The chorus is, get a hanky, "This September I'll be 26 years old and El's the only one besides my Dad who ever said 'I love you Creedence . . .' "

This is a heartbreaking story told with economy, and it's not the only one on this exceptional but much overlooked album. 

It was on the same Popfrenzy label as the wonderfully uplifting Camera Obscura, but CFTPA deliver cheaply-realised pop which relied only on a small battery of electronic instruments (Casiotone keyboards among them) and your willingness to go along for a ride which initially sounds untutored.

But over a couple of plays Etiquette reveals layers of nuance and some anguished narratives.

Extraordinary. 

These Essential Elsewhere pages deliberately point to albums which you might not have thought of, or have even heard . . .

But they might just open a door into a new kind of music, or an artist you didn't know of.

Or someone you may have thought was just plain boring.

But here is the way into a new/interesting/different music . . .

Jump in.

The deep end won't be out of your depth . . .

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Essential articles index

Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbushan Kabra, Hariprasad Chaurasia: Call of the Valley (1967)

Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbushan Kabra, Hariprasad Chaurasia: Call of the Valley (1967)

When this beautiful, elegant tone poem of Indian classical music was reissued in 1995 on the EMI Hemisphere label (with three extra tracks), people like me with a long affection for Indian music... > Read more

Donna Summer, Bad Girls (1979)

Donna Summer, Bad Girls (1979)

In musical arguments, as with political ones, the area of grey between the black and white can be as big as the other two combined. History books say you were either a Beatles or a Stones fan,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

EPs by Yasmin Brown

EPs by Yasmin Brown

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column by the informed and opinionated Yasmin Brown. She will scoop up some of those many EP releases, in... > Read more

GUEST ARTIST AND VISUAL EXPLORER DAVID TRUBRIDGE shines a light on some of his work

GUEST ARTIST AND VISUAL EXPLORER DAVID TRUBRIDGE shines a light on some of his work

Editor's note: Longtime Elsewhere subscriber David Trubridge is well-known in New Zealand for his range of lights and designs. But over recent years he and his company have produced a wide... > Read more