‘Southern Wind’ sees Dean Owens widen his musical palette with a more fuller band sound than on his previous albums and for the most part it works.
Opener ‘Last Song’ starts the album with a pace and lilt that promises much. Title track ‘Southern Wind’ is another strong addition to Owens’ cannon of haunting and evocative songs. The album is peppered with strong songs that fans of the Scottish singer will no doubt revel in.
But there are occasions when the strong romanticism of his earlier work, lapses into sentimentality. Two songs are dedicated to heroes; Elvis and Mohamed Ali.
Musically, ‘Elvis Was My Brother’ is fine and cleverly even incorporates a riff from ‘(Marie’s The Name) Of His Latest Flame’. Some of the lyrics I found a bit generic and wondered if we really need another tribute to the be-quiffed one?
Elvis was my brother. He was my friend. Elvis was the one who taught me everything.
‘Louisville Lip’ presents a similar issue with a lovely understated melody carried by a plaintive trumpet solo slightly marred by lines such as:
I never knew you but feel like I did.
Much more to my liking is ‘Mother’, which treads that line between sentimentality and affection and lands firmly on the right side with a tune difficult not to sing along to.
Other highlights on a fine album are the jaunty, optimistic ‘Anything Helps’, the swampy ‘No Way Around It’ with superb backing from Kira Small, and the lovely closer ‘Love Prevails’.
Dean has surrounded his warm enveloping voice with some top session players in Nashville and the album is produced by Neilson Hubbard of Orphan Brigade and it shows.
‘Southern Wind’ is another worthy addition to his cannon of catchy personal tales that reach out and people will connect with. If, as a songwriter, Dean Owens can do that, he must be doing something right.