So what guarantees the perfect pop hit? A riveting refrain? An irresistible beat? Perhaps a dazzling arrangement, insightful lyrics, or a captivating chorus?

In fact there's no definitive formula. If there were, they couldn't build enough banks to stash the cash spawned by those reaping its benefits. That said, Owsley's second album, The Hard Way, offers what could be considered a blueprint for any budding musician seeking a shortcut up the charts. All of these ten tracks are packed with sheer rock and roll exuberance, an instantly infectious collision of brazen hooks, effusive melodies, and soaring verses, a combination that takes its cue from so many bands gone by. There's a touch of Todd Rundgren in the swaying balladry of "Matriarch," a Lennon-esque urgency underlying "Undone," and an unshakable magnetism driving "Rainy Day People," which, not surprisingly, neatly segues into a near note-for-note rendering of "Band on the Run." Each suggests a lesson learned well.


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