Owen Temple - Two Thousand Miles
Review By: George
Peden, CSO Staff Journalist
In a market flooded with wannabees and clones, once in a great while it happens. Someone comes along, someone with a voice and a message that makes you second take and draws you in. Texas troubadour Owen Temple is just such an act. There’s conviction in his songs. There’s a passion in his vocals and there’s an earthy substance to what he delivers. Now with
Two Thousand Miles, his fourth album outing, the hatless singer song writer has nailed the possibilities, introspection and revelation across 12 tracks. The music is solid. His message is clear. The combination is melodic and uncommon.
With head Dixie Chick dad Lloyd Maines in the production booth, and a team of solid musical mates on the sessions, this 2007 B.W.Stevenson Songwritng Competition Award Winner is quickly earning comparisons to Ely and Earle. And that’s okay. But rather than pigeon Temple as similar, a close listen to his music shows a depth that’s personal and
unique… and thoughtful.
Love makes the world go round. It’s also the staple of country – the hurtin’ ache of shattered romance, the leavin’ side of goodbye with its clouded images of despair and regret – then there’s Temple’s take. On “You Want To Wear That Ring” Temple lays down honesty that’s not male pretence; but, rather, a modern view that’s sensitive and revealing.
On the Temple and Wade Bowen co-write, a guy asks the unanswerable: what it’s like to be married? There’s different views, different perspectives, different understandings, but Temple has an answer.
“You’re gonna be happy and sometimes sad…
It feels good except when it feels bad…
And you’ll know you don’t know a thing…
But day after day, you want to wear that ring.”
It’s a homespun view of marriage, but it rings with simple truth. Just like the remainder of the album. By contrast, the slightly clichéd “Red Wine And Tequila” – a tale of differing attitudes on life, love and drinking -- is captured keenly in the lyrics: “I tried to love you baby, but we’re better off alone…we’re a bad combination;” it shows, if nothing else, this 31 year-old is able to tip the relationship scales, lyrically, in either direction.
The title cut, “Two Thousand Miles,” is autobiographical. Looking for a tune title didn’t prove hard. Based in Wisconsin doing graduate work on a psychology thesis, Temple felt the push and pull, the compelling urge to return to his music. With his wife’s consent, Temple, who celebrated 10 years in the music business in ’07, honed his skills and his performing dues with regular trips to and fro to Texas – a distance of (near enough I’m told) two thousand miles.
Buried in a host of catchy, honest and open tracks are cuts like the relationship-soaked “Like We Still Care”, the stop start of “Demolition Derby” with Terri Hendrix on energised harmonies, and the made-for-singing-along “On The Lonesome Road”. And, then, there’s “The Pluto Blues”.
“The Pluto Blues” is a masterly bit of writing, featuring the common thread that everything unfolds in its own time. Wrapped in a truth declared by scientists in 2006, Pluto is no longer a planet but something much less, the tune is a metaphor against taking yourself too seriously – in time everything fades. A proof in point is the album tale of Different Strokes star Gary Coleman. The pocket-sized star of the popular early ‘80s sitcom was reportedly earning over $70,000 per episode – until he fell from public popularity. These days he’s an almost forgotten star, one better remembered as a mall security guard, who had a well publicized flare-up with a fan, resulting in court action. Nothing lasts. As the lyrics share: …One day you’re a star, next day just a rock in space, left in the cold, fallen from grace.”
Once in a great while it happens. Someone comes along, someone with a voice and a message that makes you second take and draws you in.
Can I suggest an early meeting with Owen Temple?
The album is out now on El Paisano Records.