HBS, ‘In Deep Owl’ (INgrooves/Fontana)
“HBS” is Hunter Benedict Shepherd — better known as Ben Shepherd, Soundgarden’s bassist. He’s been involved in a few side projects (including local acts Hater and Wellwater Conspiracy), but “In Deep Owl” marks the first time he’s ventured out as a solo act.
Shepherd began the album in 2009, before Soundgarden reformed. And once Soundgarden went back to work, there was a chance that Shepherd’s album could have remained in the well-populated purgatory of unreleased records. But its long gestation has led to what was initially supposed to be a purely acoustic work evolving into something harder and darker.
Though not a concept album per se, “In Deep Owl” does have a decidedly narrative arc. Shepherd starts out crooning in a moody baritone to the accompaniment of acoustic guitar.
The intensity steadily rises, building to the hypnotic drone of “Veritas” and the fuzzy workout of “Baron Robber,” and then settles back down into a calm and quiet acoustic realm. Drummers Matt Cameron (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam) and Matt Chamberlain (Pearl Jam) add the power; Shepherd adds the heart and soul.
Gillian G. Gaar, Special to The Seattle Times
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