Shrewsbury’s Dan Owen has finally released his debut album Stay Awake With Me, after dedicated years growing an established fan base. A talented musician, he has been honing his guitar skills since he was eight years old. Combining this with his raw and emotional songwriting, he has created a debut record with tonnes of still yet untapped potential.
By Katie Manning
Owen bursts into action with a symphony of brass on What Is A Man, a big-energy, feel-good track that screams radio pop. Which is great for what it is, a catchy pop song. Similarly, break-out hit Icarus, is an easy-listening dream, that will have you singing along by the time the second chorus comes in. But a sudden change into a broody mid section, seems very disjointed from the lively tune. It is a confusing start to a mismatched album.
Pop is mixed with piano ballads with swelling strings, mixed with a country style hit, mixed with a splash of grass-roots rock. It’s hard to wrap your head around. Some of these over-produced tracks detract from the emotion in Owen’s voice and his expressive lyrics; perhaps a more stripped back sound is the way to go.
Bring together the bluesy tracks that Owen does so well, such as Hideaway, Call My Name, and the bridge from Icarus, and you have a completely different album. Just go back to his first EP Bad For Me, with songs like the gritty Little Red Rooster, and heart-wrenching Riding Out This Storm – you’ll see a whole other Dan Owen. And we’re not quite sure what happened along the way. You can hear the improvement in his vocals which comes with the years of practice, and has helped him extend the power of his voice. But where did this soul go?
Dan Owen is a great blues musician, and when he goes back to the style that makes him so unique and interesting to listen to, rather than trying to write songs in an already over-stuffed genre, will be when the full potential of an album of his will shine.
Stay Awake With Me is available now