Dan Owen is the living embodiment of a dissonance. When you close your eyes and just let his voice take over, you can fool yourself into thinking you’re at the presence of a seasoned blues-man. One who’s seen the world, one who’s lived, made mistakes, tried and failed. One who can’t wait to share his years of pain with you, and teach you a thing or two. Owen’s deep and husky inflection is painful, knowing, consuming and soothing, all at the same time. Combined with the wonderful acoustics that St. Pancras Old Church offers, and the sheer volume of Owen’s lungs, there’s no escape – once he opens his mouth you’re hooked. But what happens when you open your eyes? That’s a whole different narrative.
Owen’s voice hardly matches the young 24-year-old exterior, who’s dripping with sweat on a warm London night, and can’t stop apologising for it. He introduces each song, as if he’s pleading for the audience to like it, and looks to the floor for reassurance between sentences. He’s not seasoned at all, but that’s okay. He is only 24, after all. Only 24, and he has already completed his first headline tour. Only 24, and he has already been awarded Best Young Artist at the British Blues Awards. Only 24, and he has already been mentored by Mick Fleetwood himself. Fleetwood took Owen under his wing after watching a cover the latter did, of Bob Dylan’s Ballad of Hollis Brown, on YouTube. So maybe he’s only 24, but he’s moving much faster than most.
It’s easy to understand what Feetwood saw in Owen. If you combine that massive voice with Dylan’s lyrics and bluesy rhythms, it’s a winning formula. No doubt, Owen’s voice is built for blues, and for a while, he did preform under the name “Blues Boy Dan”. But as time went on, he decided to try and explore a different musical style. Maybe with the goal of becoming more commercial and radio-friendly. What a hit and a miss. Some of his songs, such as Riding Out This Storm and Fall Like a Feather, still contain a some of those bluesy tones, but more often than not, they’re just pop. As for Owen’s lyrics, a bit like him, they have some maturing to do. They range from cliche to plain boring; but all’s forgiven by that gripping voice.
Played live, none of that matters, because once a song begins, it’s all about that little boy with that big voice. This becomes so much more apparent with the final two songs, the original On Your Feet, and the cover for Little Red Rooster. For the first, Owen finally goes into a more upbeat tune, and uses the always-enjoyable foot drum. For the second, he adds the harmonica and goes from slow to fast, from singer to artist, from amazing to incredible. With the one blues cover he shows the audience all that he is and can be. Blues Boy Dan.
This Dan Owen article was written by Tal Imagor, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo credit : gloriafoticos