Dean Owens ft Calexico – El Tiradito (The Curse of Sinner’s Shrine) 

Dean Owens ft Calexico
El Tiradito (The Curse of Sinner’s Shrine) 
Continental Record Services

A Nicely Curated Album of Twangtastic Lost Gems and New Instrumentals From the Scottish Morricone

Following on from the hugely critically acclaimed “Sinner’s Shrine”, Dean Owens returns with this intriguingly compiled double album “little brother”.
Disc 1 collects together the tracks from the three Desert Trilogy EPs released prior to “Sinner’s Shrine” that didn’t make it on to the album – songs that were recorded in person and from long distance due to pandemic times.
When first reviewing the EPs, it was clear that they stood as an excellent body of work in their own right – and collecting them here make sense for those unable to get the EPs first time around, or who only came to Dean’s work via “Sinner’s Shrine”.

After repeated plays of the songs over a couple of years, they still maintain their power – “She Was a Raven” is an anthemic gem that was unlucky not to make the “Sinner’s Shrine” cut, whereas the home demos offer a good insight as to how the songs evolved and have a rough charm of their own.
“Dolina (Sand & Blood)” is one of the EP tracks that I still haven’t heard enough of.
For an in-depth look at our review of the Desert Trilogy EPs, check here –

Even if you’d already bought all three of the Desert Trilogy EPs, this double release is worth it for the second disc – a full on instrumental album of new songs, very much in the Spaghetti Western style – the press release states that it’s Dean “unleashing his full inner Morricone!” – and it’s not wrong.
There’s whistling aplenty (if you’ve seen Dean live, you’ll know that he’s a gifted whistler!) snare drums, horse-riding beat snares, sumptuous twang and distant harmonica, brass and strings.
Spread over 8 tracks, these instrumentals work both independently and as a complete suite.
It’s the kind of sound that Charley Crockett hints at on “The Man from Waco” but here the production is much more dynamic and vibrant – someone should get on the blower to Mr Crockett methinks…or maybe Dean could be added to his Autumn UK/EU tour – another musical marriage made in heaven?
But I digress – of the eight instrumental tracks, the majesty of “Canyon Without a Name” and the thoughtful melancholy of “The Rain That Never Lands” stand out on an early listen, but there’s absolutely not a filler track amongst them.

All in all, this is a nicely curated release that offers excellent value and interest to Dean Owen’s growing number of fans – and as well as satiating their musical appetites, it’ll make them eagerly want more.

Review by Nick Barber
Released 12th May 2023


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