Roseanne Reid LAWSIDE

Roseanne Reid
Last Man Standing

Exceptionally Mature and Inspiring Americana From the East Coast of Olde Scotia.

The old cliche ‘the second album is always the hardest‘ doesn’t appear to apply here. I loved Roseanne Reid’s debut album TRAILS; which erred on the side of her Folk upbringing; but hinted at Americana and even Alt. Country leanings across quite a few songs; but here?
Today, I defy anyone in a ‘blind tasting exercise’ to tell me that this young lady doesn’t come from the Mid-West of Americae instead of the East Coast of Scotland; not that her voice is ‘effected’;’ in any way; it is 100% natural, but the arrangements and instrumentation throughout LAWSIDE are targeting a much bigger audience than the Folk Clubs ever can.
It’s not often I get ‘blown away’ by an opening song that I already know; but all preconceptions were thrown right out of the RMHQ window when I first heard All I Need.
Roseanne’s beautiful, yet melancholic voice simply aches throughout the full heartbreaking four minutes of a cleverly written song.
For only a second album, the songwriting here is exceptionally mature and the inspiration for the songs come from some very interesting places; not least Shine On, which sounds incredibly personal with the singer grieving for a lost loved one; and then the notes tell us that it was written for and about the suicide of TV personality *Caroline Flack; a death that caused us all to question the tabloid press and Social Media (for 5 minutes it appears) …. but I feel many people will find solace in Roseanne’s words too.
I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets by saying the extraordinary Made Just For You is about her baby son and the feelings a new parent has at this time in their lives.
Plenty of other songs here have backstories too; but at the same time we all interpret songs in our own personal ways; which is why Daisy Chain, All My Days and especially the rambunctious Call It Love will appeal to you and I both; but most likely for totally different reasons to the woman who wrote them from her own experiences.
After the success of her debut album Roseanne was on the cusp of something special; just as Covid and the associated lockdowns put everything on hold; but she used that time wisely; not just creating her son, but fleshing out the songs she was writing for the follow up …. and the results (at least in the case of the songs) are better than could have been hoped for had she been rushed into the studio.
The arrangements on Mona Lisa and Till Kingdom Come, especially are deceptively simple, with a production that allows Roseanne’s words and tunes the space to breathe and linger in the air for a long time after the song has ended.
As I said at the beginning all of my preconceptions were quickly out the window in Track #1 and that follows through all 13 songs; with a couple being very, very special indeed, which is why I’m currently calling a Tie for Favourite Song.
Couldn’t Wish More For You uses a simple singer-songwriter love song template for what goes on to be a complex story of Joni Mitchell proportions as a cello joins Reid’s gentle rolling acoustic guitar playing that will bring a lump to your throat.
The other, What Constitutes a Sin? Is one of those handful of songs that genuinely stops you in your tracks and sounds horribly personal.
Maybe it is about her own life, maybe not, perhaps it’s completely made up …. but … phew, the way Reid uses her velvet tinged vocals to tell this desperately emotional story could be a game changer for her … especially across the Atlantic.
Personally I love the Americana instrumentation and flavoured production, and I can’t wait to see and hear Roseanne play these songs alongside a similarly assembled band
Even playing LAWSIDE the very first time, I knew it was going straight into my Top 10 albums of 2023 …. and it’s certainly the next step on what promises to be a star studded path to glory.

Released June 2nd 2023


*Caroline Flack


Sara Petite
The Empress
40 Below Records

More Twang and Emotion Than a Pickup Truck Full of Beer Swigging Cowboy Hatted Texans.

Sara Petite hails from Washington state, and is currently based in San Diego, but has more twang in her little finger than a pickup truck full of cowboy hatted Texans.
The Empress, her seventh album, features more of Petite’s excellent songwriting, the usual well-crafted lyrics, and hey, it sounds as if she’s having a blast, which is always a huge bonus if rarer than you’d think.
Petite has a way of embodying the characters in her songs without losing herself in the process, and her brand of barn burning Country is drop dead hilarious one minute and serious as a heart attack the next, without losing sight of those three chords and the truth.
A little bit trailer trash, some good old-fashioned Honky-Tonk, a smattering of Outlaw Country cheekiness, combined with just enough dive bar earthiness to keep it honest, and then a bang-up rollicking band that’s sure to clear the cobwebs out of any drinking establishment to back her up.
Petite rocks out hard on these eleven tunes.
More Alt-Country than Americana, with a few forays gloriously nearer to punk, the production by Grammy nominee Eric Corne is focused and sharp, but evenly rocky and brittle when needed.
Petite kicks off the album with “God Save the Queen,” a mission statement from Mother Earth herself—this tune snarls and punches all the way to the last note.
“Forbidden Fruit” is lighter in jest, but just as heavy in truth with lines like:
This apple’s ripe for picking
I’ll show you what I like
Come a little closer, honey
Close enough to bite
There’s more if you get hungry
Hanging high up in the tree
Do I tempt you baby
Or do you tempt me?
The challenging and Country-Noir of “Lead the Parade/Meet Me on the Other Side” contemplates death from the perspective of one who has passed.
Accepting, yet not tearful.
Honest, not mournful.
The gospel-tinged coda really makes this one work.
“That Was You and Me” is a goodbye to an old lover, but with plenty of musical twists and turns—the kind of romance that’s doomed from the start.
Quite often it’s the explosive relationships here that are the most memorable, and also the most heartbreaking.
“She’s Come Undone” is someone falling apart, yet unapologetic and “Bringing Down The Neighbourhood” sounds like it could be a tribute to George and Tammy; and there’s a good chance that if time travel was possible, the couple would undoubtedly sing it themselves.
When you first unwrap the CD your eyes will be drawn to a song called The Mistress; and if you’re already a Sara Petite fan you’ll be tempted to skim straight to it; and if you do this pedal-steel drenched heartbreaker will be worth the entrance fee alone … these days only Sara Petite can write and deliver such a classy and sad song like the Queens of Country did in the 50’s and 60’s.
Listening to an album full of feisty songs like I Want You So Bad coupled to the subtly sweet Tread Softly and the stunning title track The Empress; it’s easy to hear why Petite is a five-time International Songwriting Competition finalist, with a fan base many radio friendly ‘Country Stars’ would be proud of.
Great songs, fully-embodied lyricism, and a no holds barred approach to her craft, Petite is still shaking things up two decades into an already storied musical career.
Long live the queen.

Released 9th June 2023
Review by The Legendary Roy Peak



Black Deer Festival Preview
Fri, Jun 16, 2023 – Sun, Jun 18, 2023

Who RMHQ want to see – and suggest you might do too

Last year’s post-COVID Black Deer Festival was a triumph – and this year, it looks like it’s going to top even that.
For the Americana (and all points West) crowd, the line -up is one to drool over.

For this hopeful punter/reviewer, I’m already trying to work out my schedule, but there are several on my must-see list.
Brennen Leigh returns to these shores for the first time in a while – her upcoming album is one of the best she’s done and it’ll be a treat to catch her live – over in the States, Brennen has been playing in a trio with Melissa Carper and Kelly Willis – sadly there’s no Kelly, but it’ll be no surprise if Melissa (who had a fab recent album too) and Brennen don’t appear on the same stage together at some point – and when that does – expect magic to happen.

There are gems galore in the small print on the poster too – Bonny Light Horseman, Jaime Wyatt, Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real are four who we don’t see enough on this side of the pond and should be highlighted in your app; and for Blues Fans don’t miss Joanne Shaw Taylor… trust me.

Last year, one of the joyfully unexpected bonuses was the Arkansas night – and most of the main culprits have returned – Jude Brothers, Dylan Earl, Dylan LeBlanc too and Willi Carlisle – expect shenanigans!

From this side of the pond, there’s a lot to enjoy too – here at Magpie Mansions, we are going to be checking in on Daisy Chute (who we saw do a great couple of slots in High Wycombe at the Ramblin’ Roots Revue a couple of years back) Grace Petrie, Robert Vincent, very own Kristine aka My Girl The River and new daddy Rob Heron (and the Teapad Orchestra obviously) .

If female solo artists are your bag, then you’re spoiled for choice – but we recommend Allison Russell (going to be even bigger next year – as she’s on a path of exponential growth upwards) Elles Bailey, Bella White, Tami Neilson, Amanda Shires and Simeon Hammond Dallas…we did say you’d be spoiled for choice!

And we’ve not mentioned a single headliner – but that would be too obvious.

See you down the front…
Last year’s review –
Our photos from last year –

Preview by Nick Barber

RMHQ Radio Show Ep:53 @NovaRadioNE #Newcastle

RMHQ Radio Show
Episode 53
Nova Radio NE

Saturday 27th May 23

My Sunday evening radio show was transferred to Saturday afternoon this week; as the Premier League football season was coming to an end with 4.30 ko’s on Sunday. At the time of planning we all thought the excitement could extend to Newcastle United; so a three hour programme was pencilled in.
Thankfully (?) on the Monday night a draw meant they couldn’t drop out of the European Cup places so Sunday would be a ‘dead rubber’.
The Music!

As it was going to be a very sunny afternoon I planned to play ‘fun’ music from the Rootsy genres; but as usual that plan quickly went adrift, starting with Tina Turner who sadly died a couple of days before broadcast and ending with Tom Petty’s ‘Refugee’ for pretty obvious reasons if you follow UK politics!
In between we had loads of new tracks and singles coupled to a few older songs that I re-discovered tucked away on the Nova Super Computer.

Tina TurnerNutbush City Limits
Wily Bo & ED BrayshawLive With Me
Guy DavisGot Your Letter in My Pocket
Chuck ProphetFelony Glamour
Kyshona TrioWe The People
The Countess of FifeHumans Are a Bad Breed
Stefan GrossmanVestapol
Ruthie FosterWar Pigs
Marty StuartThe Sun is Quietly Sleeping
Margo PriceShotgun Willie
Casey James PrestwoodDay Drinking
Amanda Shires & Bobbie NelsonSummertime
Zach AaronTruth is a Mirror
Bella WhiteWorth My While
Dean MuellerLife Ain’t All Roses
Ben HemmingThe Devil’s Dance
Lee HunterThe Sycamore’s are Turning
Cowboy JunkiesMike Tyson (Here it Comes)
Stephen FearingGone But Not Forgotten
Beau JenningsI Know The Guys
Chastity BrownLoving the Questions
Tom BlackwellKill Me With Kindness
Malcolm HolcombeBits & Pieces
Annie KeatingCowgirl in the Sand
Helen McCookerybookCoffee & Hope
The ByrdsSo You Want to be a Rock & Roll Star
Tom PettyRefugee

Chastity Brown & Tom Blackwell @ Jumpin Hot Club #Newcastle

Chastity Brown & Tom Blackwell
Jumpin Hot Club
The Cluny II
Thursday 25th May 2023

First up was Liverpudlian singer-songwriter Tom Blackwell, looking very dapper in a suit and pristine white shirt. He opened with the slow and simmering I Can’t Help It, which seamlessly went into Paradise Blues without missing a note.
With only 40 minutes to showcase his back catalogue and imminent new release; Tom was like a magician the way he changed harmonicas and re-set his acoustic guitar between songs; generally with some self-depreciating quips to entertain the appreciative crowd.
Just over half way through he played the title track, Regency Cafe from the new album; and while I have my own review copy at home; I only realised how much he reminds me of the solo work from Ray Davies in the way he arranges and sings his songs; the subject matter is similar too.
The other two new songs found him dipping his toes into the Americana waters with Tom Trouble and what he introduced as his ‘daft song’ Kill Me With Kindness which was filled with wheezy harmonica bursts ala Neil and Bob which merited two stars in my notes.
For a virtual unknown this far East I was pleased to hear Tom receive a request for The King of Doubt, from the back of the room, which was actually one of the highlights of a razor-sharp set.
Tom has recently re-located to the NE, so hopefully I will get to see him a lot more in the near future.

I’ve seen Chastity Brown a few times over the years so was surprised to see a drum kit as the back of the stage; which was filled by an intricate lady drummer called Tara who wonderfully Chastity’s ‘Jazzy set’.
You will have to forgive me as we go forward, because not only did I become immersed in the music; occasionally forgetting to scribble notes; Chastity didn’t introduce any songs; bar one …. and her set list, which I photographed seems to be written in some secret code!
Her opening song, Cult Classically set the tone for the Jazzy vibe that prevailed all evening; intricately soft drums accompanying some clever piano or guitar; but with Ms Brown’s stunning vocals very much front and centre.
This was followed by Boston from the latest album; and the sparse guitar and drums with an intense vocal performance took a beautiful song into a whole new dimension.
Wonderment from the same album followed and Chastity’s choppy guitar breaks were quite astounding at times; which while I know she can play guitar, tonight she used her Semi-Acoustic as a lead instrument which was a great surprise.
On previous visits Chastity was accompanied by a pianist, but tonight she played it herself and just like her guitar playing, left me stunned as she channeled her inner Carla Bley at times with her passionate all encompassing playing as Tara watched her like a hawk for key changes.
As the gig ebbed and flowed, Chastity introduced a new song; Mosaic as a ‘work in progress’ for a project she’s working on with the Minnesota Orchestra …and sort of beggared belief as she played it solo on the piano which was beautiful; but I haven’t got the imagination to think what it might be like with a full orchestral backing.
One of the joys of watching music being played live, is when something goes slightly wrong ….which occurred tonight when Chastity got her verses mixed up in a song …. no one else in the world apart from us witnessed it, which I think is rather cool and special.
After 60 very special and intimate minutes Chastity and Tara thanked us for being there; then left the stage only to come back on for an obligatory encore, a particularly ‘heavy’ version of Curiosity, which was met with reverential silence from the audience then a torrent of applause at the end.
This was a really special evening of music from two very talented singer-songwriters who chopped and changed songs into barely recognisable from their recorded versions; but proving that there’s never just one version of a song.


Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives ALTITUDE

Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives

A Byrdsian, Garage-Rock,Twelve String Trippy Delight.

Anyone who caught Marty and his Fabulous Superlatives on his UK/EU visit last year will appreciate that the man and his band are masters of any Country form (and others – Surf music too) they choose to turn their hands to. On this occasion, Mr Stuart is dipping his pen into late period Byrds twanging psychedelia.

Instrumentals “Lost Byrd Space Train” (“Scene 1” and “Epilogue”) bookmark the album and set the tone.
The opener is a rumbling, trippy ride which nigh-segues into the scorching “Country Star”, a sort of response to “So You Wanna be a Rock’n’roll Star?” yet much tougher and harder – it’s has echoes of a Creedence style road song and is bound to be a live favourite.

Twelve string, Beatle-esque melody and Byrdsian harmony takes over on “Sitting Alone” – has anyone seen Marty and Bennett Wilson Poole in the same room?
“A friend of mine” keeps up the pace – although more in mid-60s garage rock territory and would have sat perfectly in any of the Nuggets compilations with its driving bass and surf guitar riffing – definitely an air guitar showpiece.

There’s then a trio of single-word title songs “Space”, as its name suggests is slower and atmospheric – based around sitar and a lyric about being an outsider, it comes from the sort of place that the Thirteenth Floor Elevators might have frequented. Title track “Altitude” is much more cosmic country – it takes the path that the Flying Burrito Brothers were pursuing and I can almost visualise Marty S. doing the Gram Parsons facial twitch while singing it. The Parsons connection continues with “Vegas” which is a close cousin of “Ooh Las Vegas” – it even has the “oohs” and a copycat rhythm!!

The song titles get some extra words again with “The Sun is Quietly Shining”, a more reflective soundtrack to one of those films shot on Super 8 with lots of lava lamp projection effects.
It’s hippy-trippy heaven.
Early Pink Floyd anyone?

There’s a brief instrumental revisit to the “Lost Byrd Space Train (scene 2)” before the wig-out slow boogie of “Nightriding” with its grungy bass tones.
Tempo-wise things kick off again with “Tomahawk” which has its roots in old Blues stompers and late 60s Acid-Country.

“Time to Dance” is perhaps a bit of a late declaration because there’s been plenty to shake your bits to prior to this 12th track – choice of dance to this track?

Probably the Twist.

Last “full” track “The Angels Came Down” is the most laid-back on the album, with Stuart’s close-mic-ed saturated vocal framed by warm picked guitar and sweet harmonies, before the gentler trip-out of the final “Lost Byrd Space Train (Epilogue)”.

Once again, Marty Stuart shows that he’s the King of whatever he wants to turn his hand to, musically speaking – as a scholar of the genre he knows his stuff and its seeps into his music.

In the case of “Altitude”, Marty Stuart’s playing what he most obviously loves, not what the mainstream might dictate and that gives it all the more life and vibrancy.

Fans of the aforementioned Bennett Wilson Poole will love this – both albums are coming from very similar places – maybe we’re seeing a Paisley revival, revival?!!

Review by Nick Barber

Released 19th May 2023


Rocking Magpie Radio Show Ep:52 @NovaRadioNE #Newcastle

Rocking Magpie Radio Show
Nova Radio NE

Sunday 21st May 2023

Summer’s here … and while it’s not quite time for Dancing in The Street, tonight’s show seemed to take on a life of its own with ‘Summery’ type tracks virtually picking themselves; even the new singles; a couple of which were ‘Exclusive First Plays’ for RMHQ alongside some absolute Classics starting with Buddy Holly and ending with ZZ Top!

Buddy HollyRave On
Sara PetiteBringing Down the Neighbourhood
Wily Bo & ED BrayshawMen Without Shadows
Abe PartridgeCoffee on the Counter
Anna Elizabeth Laube  How Could We Not Believe?
Withered HandCrippled Love
Daniel MeadeDon’t Look Back
Laura CantrellJust Like a Rose
Orion Express Ride a White Swan
The Rumble (Mardi Gras Indian band)Trouble
Matthew AlexanderSpanish Harlem
Silver Lake 66  Angeline
Drive-By Truckers Wilder Days
Blackie & The Rodeo KingsKick My Heart Around
Desmond GrundyDrop the Gloves 
Cowboy JunkiesSweet Jane (Live)
Graham Nash Right Now
Iris DementI Won’t Ask You Why
Elvis CostelloTonight the Bott;e Let Me Down
Hurray For the Riff RaffLake of Fire
Allison RussellPersophene
Howe Gelb & The Band of Gypsies4 Door Maverick
Dean Owens & CalexicoWeeping Skulls
Jace EverettBad Things
Roseanne Reid (Steve Earle Tour)All I Need (LP Lawside )
The Hanging StarsI Don’t Want to Feel So Bad Anymore
Li’l Jimmy ReedWee Wee Hours
Grainne DuffyRise Above
ZZ TopCheap Sunglasses

Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton DEATH WISH BLUES

Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton
Death Wish Blues
Rounder Records

A Whip Sharp Deadly Duo Push The Boundaries of Blues Rock and Alt. Country Flavoured Rock Music.

It’s been a fun ride from this odd coupling to get this far; with Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton releasing singles and an EP a’plenty over the last year or so teasing us on the route towards this final Album release.
Some of those songs; but not all as there are quite a few brand new tracks here that sound like the deadly duo are not just challenging each other but the listener to.
If you are reading this review I presume you don’t need me to delve into the couple’s diverse backgrounds but mutual admiration do I?
The music! Let’s talk about the music!
Opening track Deathwish comes at you like a sleazy lothario on a Friday night in a bar on the wrong side of town, just before closing time. The bass line is incredibly ‘heavy’ and the guitar interplay errs on that side too; but Dayton’s riffs are straight outta Boone County as Samantha takes her own distinctive vocals into an arena I’d never have expected from her.
As the album title alludes to; these songs are predominantly Bluesy in creation and dark too; but there’s so much more going on in the shadows; starting with Track #2 Down In the Mud when Jesse takes over the lead vocals on a song that will hit you like a punch to the gut.
Because the couple are coming at these songs from opposite ends of the music spectrum; even if you’d heard the previous EP’s you still wouldn’t expect to hear arrangements and songs like the salacious No Apology or the Funkalicious Supadupabad which starts where Sly Stone and James left off; or may even have been too afraid to attempt!
With that in mind, legacy Fish and Dayton fans really have to have an open-mind when playing this album; as there’s very little hear that could fit into either performer’s own albums; but surely that’s the point? Samantha and Jesse sound like they are having an absolute blast here; trading off each other guitar wise and lyrically too …… the ‘breakup song’ Trauma is a perfect example with the couple singing ‘at’ each other like a pumped up Sonny & Cher; which is a sentence I never expected to type!
I’ve ‘liked’ both Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton for quite a few years; and regardless of the Awards both; and especially Samantha has/have won along the way there are so many surprises on this album that I’ve had to list six songs as contenders for ‘Favourite Song’ status … and that’s a first.
The current single, Riders finds Jesse and Samantha extolling the delights of various cities on their touring agenda but treating each as a lover of the one night stand variety, then moving on to the next with barely a look over the shoulder; and boy oh boy is the guitar playing bordering on the indecent!
Which reminds me; DEATH WISH BLUES could easily be described as a ‘guitar album’; it most certainly is in every which way; but that’s doing a discredit to the songwriting and singing here; which all gives you plenty of fun discovering new delights every time you play Dangerous People and/or the pugnacious Flooded Love.
Then you have Settle For Less, which in other less vanity driven hands would easily be guitar wig-outs; but here courtesy of Jon Spencer’s tight and often claustrophobic production actually highlight and showcase the thoughtful and erudite songwriting … and singing too.
With appointing a ‘Favourite Track’ on my mind; I’ve had to dig deep to choose between the beautiful; and enthralling ballad You Know My Heart which closes the album; and finds Samantha channelling her inner Aretha to Jesse Dayton’s Stevie as the song smoulders until finally catching fire during the last verse.
When it comes to ‘surprises’ Rippin’ and Runnin’ has them from the cool acoustic slide intro through to the crude and lewd finale; which is why it just shades the Grand Title of Favourite Track by a single point.
There’s a feeling of fun and mutual respect all through Death Wish Blues, with Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton allowing each other the room to swagger and strut without ever adding even a note too many that could detract from the other one’s lead; be that singing or playing guitar.
While the album and the songs themselves deserve a huge audience; they will actually be best heard when you are all alone, be that in the car or your own home; and played live …. it’s got to be a sold-out sweaty club at the height of Summer when you can hardly breathe as Jesse and Samantha give it 101% on stage for your mutual pleasure.

PS I’m going to see then in wonderful and acoustically perfect theatre later in the year!

Released 19th May 2023


RMHQ Radio Show Ep:51 @NovaRadioNE #Newcastle

RMHQ Radio Show
Episode 51
Nova Radio NE

Sunday 14th May 2023

Even before I’d pressed a button, I already knew that my playlist of new songs for tonight’s show was 5 too many to fit into the two hour format; and didn’t allow for any older tracks that I love re-discovering on your behalf.
I started with Little Richard as I’d just watched a documentary about him, then slid in Bo Diddley and Sister Rosetta Tharpe to get the party well on its way too.
So Every now and again I slipped a song in that fitted with the ‘mode/vibe’ then gt back to the new songs …. until I decided on a whim to drop everything and go full on Laurel Canyon towards the end, as I’d watched a documentary on the subject earlier in the day … then once I’d done that I couldn’t resist ending the show with songs from Chastity Brown and Jason Ringenberg who I’m going to see in the next few days at the Jumpin’ Hot Clun in downtown Newcastle.

Little RichardTutti Frutti
Bo DiddleyI’m a Man
Sister Rosetta TharpeTeach Me To Be Right
8 Ball AitkenOnly Guiding Light
Hannah Gillespie (AUS)This Burning Desire (03/05)
Willie NelsonFace of a Fighter
Tracy Nelson (ft Willie Nelson)Honky Tonkin’
Hugh ReedBuliders
DEAN OWENS & CalexicoMother Road
Ags ConnollyI Trust My Heart These Days
Ana PopovicQueen of the Pack
Samantha Fish and Jesse DaytonRippin and Runnin
Hannah AldridgePsycho Killer
Luke MorleyKilled By Cobain
David G SmithI Wanna Go Out (lp June)
David OlneyFerris Wheel
Margo CilkerLowland Trail
Dennis EllsworthHold You Close
Jerry LegerPretty Girl in an Ugly World
Kassi ValazzaSmile
Buffalo SpringfieldMr Soul
Joni MitchellCarey
Crosby, Stills & NashYou Don’t Have to Cry
Neil YoungUnknown Legend
West on ColfaxThe Desert Lies Outside the City
Watson TwinsNever Be Another You
Chastity BrownI Went Home
Jason RingenbergEddie Rode The Orphan Train

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