Reviews

Owen MooreOwen Moore
Album: City Streets And Country Songs
Label: PJO
Tracks: 12
Website: http://www.owenmooremusic.com/

This is the seventh album from Irish born and Southbourne based Owen Moore.

Owen may not be an immediately recognisable UK country name like Charlie Landsborough even if his vocals sound very similar in many of his songs. He has got a very clear and soft tone to his voice and delivers every song in what appears to be a confident and effortless way.

I first became familiar with Owen Moore's music through his songs that appeared on the Hotdisc European chart and when I obtained his second album 'Rainy Day Songs'. I was impressed by how Owen delivers some excellent self-written songs and marvelling in how he also single-handedly produces and arranges all his albums. Other than putting the finished songs to disc and maybe some sleeve artwork done by others (possibly the local record company mentioned on the sleeve), Owen appears to be an all-in-one artist, promoter and management team. His passion and enjoyment shines through in every song and performance. It appears to me that Owen has got what I've noticed other UK country artists have which is that desire to personally connect to the audience wherever that might be. He doesn't seem interested in the glitz of Nashville or teaming up with a chart focused management team nor does he fancy venturing too far from his comfortable busking territory. He wants to do things his way and why not?

The other albums include 'Windswept On A Broken Guitar', 'Simplicated Songs' and 'Short Songs From Thin Air' all of which include original self-written songs. In between there has been a live album 'Bar Rooms, Back Rooms and October Songs' and 'Street Corner Songs' which was a collection of favourite covers that Owen often performs to his live audiences.

Once you have heard some of Owens's songs on an album, on the streets of Dorset or in a venue nearby entertaining the gathered audiences you know you are in safe hands with strong guitar playing along with solid easy listening vocals. There is a tendency for Owen to choose a few too many slow paced songs; in fact I struggle to recall one that I have heard from this collection that is of more than toe tapping pace. Despite this it is hard not to sit back listening and fail to be captivated by the craft and passion of somebody as experienced and talented as Owen Moore.

'City Streets and Country Songs' is a short album of twelve classic country songs. There are some familiar tunes to my ears like the opening track 'Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good' originally performed by Don Williams, the John Hartford written and Glen Campbell sung 'Gentle On My Mind' and an album track of Emmylou Harris's 'If I Were A Bluebird' (written by Butch Hancock). These three songs are sung well in Owens's calm and collected individual way while not deviating far from the original versions.

There are less familiar songs like 'A Fewer Threads Than Those' (performed most notably by Dan Seals), 'A Touch Of The Rainy Side' (Jesse Winchester) and 'I'm Alone' (Marion Carpenter). The only time Owen strays slightly away from country is with Ben E King's soul classic 'Don't Play That Song For Me' delivered in a proficient countrified way. This along with the poignant and heartfelt lyrics of 'If I Could Fly' would have to be my favourite choices on a sometimes lacklustre album. I think this final track rescues a surprisingly mixed up or confused album of few noteworthy moments and possibly Owen's weakest to date.

There are versions of less familiar songs by Willie Nelson and Neil Young on this album. These as the album's title suggests are 'Country Songs' but should really be kept for entertaining on 'City Streets' or, as I like to imagine, being played by Owen sitting on his front porch pickin' his guitar (reminiscent of early country singers from the Appalachian mountains).

I presume the songs chosen for this album are some of Owens's personal favourites but I can't help thinking that if he had allowed a bit more production and input from others then the album may have sounded a bit more polished. I feel a little bit disappointed knowing the quality of previous albums. It is difficult to choose a standout moment as there are too many similar paced songs with vocals on certain tracks that lack the confidence and cutting edge that they would on Owens' self-written songs. What this album needed is a catchy 'Fifteen Minutes' or 'It's Tough' as on the 'Rainy Day Songs' collection which for me remains Owens's standout album.

Hopefully there will be further self-written songs to come from Owen Moore as this is his strongest forte. There shouldn't be a need to hurry and put out another album of classic covers but instead focus on the strengths of guitar playing and songwriting. At the same time I'm sure Owen will not be too concerned and will carry on entertaining his audiences the way he enjoys and does best with just himself and his guitar.

Craig Parry

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