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Edinburgh based Dean Owens is one of Scotland’s most acclaimed and established singer-songwriters. Previously the front-man of the much loved and lauded Americana act The Felsons, Dean has subsequently been recording and touring as a successful solo artist.
His first two self produced solo albums The Droma Tapes and My Town were both very successful and attracted significant critical acclaim on release. The Droma Tapes is a very stark and melancholy album, recorded in a remote cottage in the Scottish Highlands with his long time musical partner Kevin McGuire. In contrast My Town is a very colourful record and features a whole host of musicians from the cream of the Scottish Folk/Roots world including among others Karine Polwart, Martin Green (Lau) and Mattie Foulds (The Burns Unit). His current album Whisky Hearts, is generally agreed to be his finest work to date.The album was the subject of a major national advertising campaign by Navigator Records, while the sleeve notes for it are penned by no less than Irvine Welsh of Trainspotting fame – a big fan of Dean’s. In fact he’s such a fan that the title track of Whisky Hearts appeared on the soundtrack of Irvine’s film, Good Arrows.
Dean recorded and produced Whisky Hearts exclusively in Nashville, Tennessee with a band that included many internationally acclaimed musicians from that area. They include Al Perkins (Flying Burrito Bros, Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones and, most recently, Solomon Burke); Will Kimbrough (Americana Instrumentalist of the Year award winner / Rodney Crowell Band), Jen Gunderman ( The Jayhawks), Thad Cockrell, plus Robert Reynolds and Paul Deakin (The Mavericks) among others.
On its release in 2008 Whisky Hearts attracted highly positive national media reviews and radio play via the likes of Russell Brand, who played a track on his now infamous and defunct BBC Radio 2 programme – and followed this by affording Dean a rare live session on his show. The album also secured air time on the Mark Radcliffe / Stuart Maconie and Aled Jones Radio 2 shows and was featured extensively on BBC Radio Scotland.
As well as touring throughout the world in his own right Dean has opened shows and been tour guest for artists such as Steve Earle, Eddi Reader, Emmylou Harris , Nanci Griffiths and Joan as Policewoman to name just a few.
In February 2010 Dean travelled to New York to work with New York writer/producer Dave Derby. Dave is a singer-songwriter in his own right and has produced albums of his own material for his band Gramercy Arms, plus he has produced a number of artists including Lloyd Cole. The February trip was so fruitful that Dean returned in the summer to start work on his new album with Dave and various New York musicians. These include drummer Ray Ketchem from the band Elk City. Ray is also a great producer/mixer and runs his Orange Road Studio in New Jersey. Dean and Dave have brought Ray in to co produce and mix the new record.
In December 2010 Dean released his charity Christmas single Snowglobe to raise funds for the mental health charity Mind. Snowglobe was recorded as part of the New York sessions and reached No 46 in the iTunes singer – songwriter chart.
Dean has spent 2011 finishing off the New York album New York Hummingbird which is due to be released at the beginning of 2012. This year has also found Dean working on a project close to his heart, recording an album of Johnny Cash songs. A long-time fan of Johnny’s music Dean has been playing his songs at concerts for many years. The album is scheduled for release in 2012 to coincide with what would have been Johnny Cash’s 80th Birthday.
What they’ve said about Dean, his music and Whisky Hearts –
“For God’s sake buy this album”
– Russell Brand
“Whisky Hearts is a veritable musical Highland Park and that, as any connoisseur of the water of life will confirm, is a very excellent thing indeed”
“Dean Owens is Scotland’s most engaging and haunting singer-songwriter”
– Irvine Welsh