Scottish troubadour continues his highly acclaimed US desert states sojourn with iconic Latin rockers Calexico, with a double album release, including an all instrumental “soundtrack for an imaginary Western”.
Dean Owens’ 8 (official) solo albums, mostly recorded in the US, have seen him collaborate with some of the most respected musicians and producers around, including most recently Latin rock legends Calexico – a partnership which has been hailed as a “marriage made in heaven”.
Dean’s music has been described as a unique blend of Scottish roots and Americana, but in truth it’s hard to pin down to a single genre. With each album he has pushed his own boundaries, constantly exploring, as his travels have taken him from Scotland’s post industrial heartlands to Nashville, New York and the panoramic vistas of the US deserts.
His most recent album, 2022’s Sinner’s Shrine (recorded with Calexico) has been pulling superlative-laden reviews from publications throughout Europe, described as an intoxicating, innovative, “marriage made in heaven” perfect collaboration. It was a featured album in Rolling Stone (France), and voted Album of the Year by readers of Americana UK and #2 by readers of Netherlands’ Heaven Magazine.
Now his 9th album – El Tiradito (The Curse of Sinner’s Shrine) – a double CD release, on Netherlands’ Continental Record Services – is set for release on Fri 12th May. As the name suggests it’s related to Sinner’s Shrine – a little brother if you like, which continues his collaboration with the musicians from Calexico, and the sounds and influences of the US south west desert states.
Disc 1 comprises songs recorded at the Sinner’s Shrine sessions which didn’t quite fit on the original album, and songs recorded long distance as lockdown kicked in. They were originally released as the long since sold out Desert Trilogy EPs, and (following demand from fans) are now available in one place for the first time. The mood ranges from big production numbers like the blistering She Was A Raven and Dolina, to the quiet melancholy of Tombstone Rose (co-written with Calexico’s Joey Burns) and Ashes & Dust. Stories of sinners and saints, love and lust, the displaced, the wanderers and the border ghosts.
Mother Road (inspired by 96 year old Angel Delgadillo whose (now legendary) barber shop still occupies its position on Route 66 (the “mother road”) now bypassed by the Interstate highway) is a reflective, powerful ballad. The unsettlingly edgy Riverline was inspired by a book byformer US/Mexico border patrol agent Francisco Cantú, while Dolina is dark, sultry and mysterious. Even When I’m Gone features Dean in solo, reflective mood, before (fittingly) The End, which has been described as “the best murder ballad not covered by Johnny Cash!”
The all instrumental Disc 2 is all new, and sees Dean unleashing his full inner Morricone! A theme for an imaginary Western, recorded long distance in various home studios from Tucson to Berlin via Pencaitland, with Calexico musicians John Convertino and Martin Wenk, with Naïm Amor, Tom Hagerman and Dean’s old Felsons buddy Kevin McGuire. It was inspired by the story of Tucson landmark El Tiradito (the Shrine to the Sinner) which reads like a classic Sergio Leone Western – a tragic tale of forbidden passion and bloodsoaked revenge and retribution. To this day, people still visit the shrine (the only one in the US dedicated to “a sinner”) and leave messages to lost loved ones, lovers, saints and sinners.
In addition to the Sinner’s Shrine release, 2022’s highlights included performances at the iconic Edinburgh Castle, and festivals in Scotland, the Netherlands and Germany. Just back from a sold out tour in the Netherlands, Dean is already working on plans for his 10th album to be recorded in Italy (with Sacri Cuori’s Antonio Gramentieri) following a successful £17k crowdfunding campaign, for release in 2024.
Joey Burns (Calexico): “Dean’s a badass! He’s got great songs, and I just really felt in sync with him”