The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Wed 3 Dec
Every singer-songwriter has their holy trinity; those singers who inform what they do at the very core. During this intimate evening, the one-time Felsons’ head honcho, Dean Owens gives away Elvis Costello and Johnny Cash straight off, but such is his range – weather-beaten Scottish soul to grizzled Americana – that his third could be anyone. There’s Springsteen, Dylan, Eitzel in there, as well as snatches of The Blue Nile and Squeeze’s contrasting takes on pop perfection. ‘Blue December’ is as sublime a moment of plaintive folk soul as you will find. He wrings every last drop from his mournful refrain, but it’s cleansing, the breathtaking centrepiece to a warming set.
Owens plies the rusty, dusty everyman lyrical route, citing familiar landmarks – Leith Docks, the Barrowland, Queen Street Station – with sentimentality, but stops short of any mawkish localisms.
Stuart Nisbett’s assured fretwork and the understated piano and harmonies of the equally compelling Kim Edgar give Owens’ blue collar rockisms a bit of spit and polish. They needn’t have fussed; the songs shine through anyway.