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GARETH OWEN —ROLLING BY (Self-Released)

www.garethowen.com

You could say Gareth Owen was a late bloomer when it came to getting his recording career into motion, but this could not be said for his work as a prize-winning poet, and was presenter of the BBC's long-running Poetry Please!

Here, Owens revisits old-fashioned country storytelling. He was first turned onto country music via the great story-teller himself, Tom T Hall, and though it could be his approach and sound (no bad thing) is a little dated a great many will find it most refreshing and at the same time be amazed by Owen’s uncanny grasp of the art and sound.

On occasions I found a likeness to Scottish – Australian act, Eric Bogle and for that matter one or two others from down-under come to mind as he speaks of life of the workingman (“Nowhere” is steeped in the sound). Support comes from the excellent Ruby Turner (vocals), Matt Park (pedal steel guitar), Ruth Goller (bass), Ed Begley (piano, Hammond organ, Harmonium and backing vocals) he also produced the record), James Kitchman (guitars) and Tony Bianco (percussion). 

“Lady Whiskey” sets the show in motion, and with sturdy aids in the moody and sobering, pedal steel warmed above noted “Nowhere” (as he speaks of waiting for the mail man and how though like many, it is the kind of humdrum day he would not exchange for any other), talking blues hinted “Jesse James And The Barber” like a good few more, it draws the listener ever closer to the speaker as he tells his story. On this occasion he has a catchy chorus to go with it as Park’s picking dances ‘round Owen’s lead vocals. Best track on the record? “Nothing Better To Do” is a plumb contender. Owen also produces another tribute song to the great Hank Williams in “Before I Get To Heaven” that speaks of that fateful last night, and for those who don’t know Hank died in the back of his car on New Year’s Day (1953) when he was out on the road in between gigs in Canton, Ohio. 

The album is a nice listen, and though not necessarily an album I would prefer to country music’s main liners Owen writes a good song, and knows how to present a good story, and what fine players he invites to the party. How about a UK tour! 

            Maurice Hope     

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September 2018

1
The Devil Makes Three
70 pts.
Chains Are Broken
New West
FC,JB,RK,TJ,LK
2
Jimmy LaFave
65 pts.
Peace Town
Music Road Records
PKO
3
Malcolm Holcombe
48 pts.
Come Hell Or High Water
Gypsy Eyes Music
FB,JBO
4
Cody Canada & the Departed
47 pts.
3
Blue Rose Records
CVL,DHO
5
Jeffrey Foucault
43 pts.
Blood Brothers
Blueblade Records
MB,SZ
6
The War And Treaty
42 pts.
Healing Tide
Thirty Tigers
FCE,AL,MG
7
Martha Fields
40 pts.
Dancing Shadows
Independent
SP,DH,RST,RW
8
The Weight Band
35 pts.
World Gone Mad
Must Have Music
DD,CRS,BM
9
David Olney
32 pts.
This Side Or The Other
Black Hen Music
LM
 
The Black Sorrows
32 pts.
Citizen John
Blue Rose Records
 
11
Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis
31 pts.
Wild Wild Wild
Bloodshot Records
GS
12
Hadley McCall Thackston
28 pts.
Hadley McCall Thackston
Wolfe Island Records
 
 
Nathan Bell
28 pts.
Er Gwaetha Pawb a Phopeth
Angry Stick
PK
14
Curse Of Lono
26 pts.
As I Fell
Submarine Cat Records
MM,JF
15
Ryan Martin
25 pts.
Gimme Some Light
High Moon
 
 
Stephen Simmons
25 pts.
Gall
Locke Creek Records
TK,HDB
17
Jason McNiff
23 pts.
Joy And Independence
At The Helm Records
 
 
Jim Lauderdale
23 pts.
Time Flies
Yep Roc
 
 
Kevin Gordon
23 pts.
Tilt and Shine
Crowville Media
MP
20
Eliza Gilkyson
21 pts.
Secularia
Red House Records
KG,JJC
21
Boz Scaggs
20 pts.
Out Of the Blues
Concord Records
BH,JSM
 
Lucero
20 pts.
Among The Ghosts
Thirty Tigers
JJ
 
Melissa Carper & Rebecca Patek
20 pts.
Brand New Old-Time Songs
Independent
MW
24
The Jayhawks
17 pts.
Back Roads and Abandoned Motels
Legacy
 
25
Lori McKenna
16 pts.
Tree
Cn Records

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