Advance Base

(Orindal Records)

In 1997, Owen Ashworth began recording as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, making bedroom pop as bare, honest, and borderline-emo as his adopted monicker. In 2010, he exchanged the name for Advance Base, and as middle age drew nearer (he is now forty-one), his singing began to embody the world-weariness that his music often conveyed, and his lyrics seemed to spring from a deeper well of experience. When he considers divorce (the stunning “Dolores & Kimberly”) or an ill friend on a recovery process (“Christmas in Nightmare City”) on his new album, his words are not just sung but felt. Despite that he has upped his production values from his Casiotone days, his formula remains similar: A simple keyboard melody runs up and down as if pacing around the room, and he sing-speaks over the top, achieving the melancholy of the last lonely hour of a dance, after all the confetti has fallen. As a Chicago musician who sings about Indiana frequently on this record, there is something Midwestern about his work; it’s plainspoken and able to convey a cinematic feel with minimal tools. “Your Dog,” a song in which he runs into an ex-lover’s excited dog outside of a café, shows the range of his songwriting gifts. With terrific wit, Ashworth transforms a series of mundane details about coffee, eyeglass repairs, and dog parks into a profound moment, ending with a bark.