One of the many things I love about Bob Bradshaw is that he still firmly believes in the idea of the album; twelve songs (give or take one or two) chosen because they fit together and sequenced in a way that’s pleasing to the ear. Another thing I love is that he always likes to throw a few curveballs; just when you think you’re listening to an album of straight-ahead rock or Americana, he throws in something that stops you in your tracks. It can be an unexpected musical styling or an unusual melodic shift, or something else entirely.

‘Somebody Told Me a Lie’ is a perfect example; the theme of the song’s a cheating partner and it’s delivered with a crooner vocal and a Hawaiian shuffle setting with lap steel licks. The shock comes in the brief shift from common time to triple time to emphasise the line “While she was waltzin’ round the room”. It’s deliberately disorientating, emphasising the jolt of the realisation of infidelity. Bob does the straightforward rock stuff very well (the album’s opener ‘Waiting’ and the self-deprecatory ‘Hot in the Kitchen’ are conclusive proof of that) but he really shines as a storyteller, whether the stories are entirely fictional or based on reality, particularly when he tailors the musical stylings to the memorable subject matter.

Here’s a couple of examples for you. ‘The Silk Road Caravan’ is based around historical events while focussing on the story of the special partnership between man and horse. The arrangement reflects the geographical setting with a slightly Arabic and very percussive arrangement. An even better, and more harrowing example of this musical and lyrical synergy appears in ‘Rosa’ the story of a man attempting to break out across the Mexican border to start a new life before calling his sweetheart to join him. The song begins with a church bell and a flamenco guitar and builds through several sections until the panicked finale with squalling guitars and atonal trumpet (played by Calexico’s Jacob Valenzuela) indicating that the attempted breakout has failed disastrously. It’s a superb demonstration of the music playing a huge part in carrying the story forward.

There’s usually a bit of humour on a Bob Bradshaw album; ‘The Art of Feeling Blue’ is no exception. The title song is a slightly skewed, mocking take on melancholy, while ‘Thought I Had a Problem’ explores the characters that buy into the rock excess lifestyle, in this case “Weed and speed, moonshine, white wine and gin.” The cast of musicians is excellent as ever and a special mention goes to Kris Delmhorst (a hugely talented singer-songwriter in her own right) for her evocative backing vocals on seven of the twelve songs. There’s a huge amount of variety across the album as well as a sense that you’re never too far away from another pleasant surprise.

‘The Art of Feeling Blue’ is released in the UK on Friday June 16th on Fluke Records (FR12).

Here’s the video for ‘The Silk Road Caravan’:

Dean @Green Note May 2022

The timing of this piece could not have been better. Dean Owens has had a great year, which has just been crowned by the announcement earlier today that he has won not one, but two, Americana UK awards. ‘Sinner’s Shrine’ has been voted UK Americana album of the year and Dean has been voted UK Americana Act of the Year. Both awards are well-deserved and couldn’t have gone to a nicer guy. So, over to Dean.

In no particular order:

The new Calexico album – ‘El Mirador’

There’s some cracking stuff on this record. Their first since Joey Burns moved away from Tucson. It very much sounds like a love letter to that city and the Sonoran Desert.

An Ian Rankin mention

Finding out that Ian Rankin had written me into the new Rebus book – ‘A Heart Full of Headstones’. Rebus is listening to my new album ‘Sinner’s Shrine’ in his car. Very cool indeed.

Kirsten Adamson album

Kirsten Adamson @Cashback 2020

Hearing the mixes of the new Kirsten Adamson album ‘Landing Place’, which comes out in February. I had the privilege of producing this lovely album and hearing one of our co-writes, the beautiful ‘Father’s Songs’, was a special moment.

‘Sinner’s Shrine’

I have to be a bit selfish here and say that finally seeing the release of ‘Sinner’s Shrine’ in 2022 was a big deal for me. This album means so much to me. To be able to make this record with one of my favourite bands, Calexico, in Tucson, was one of the thrills of my life.

Playing Edinburgh Castle

This was a truly amazing moment for me. Edinburgh Castle is one of the biggest shows you can play in Scotland. An amazing backdrop for a gig. I was invited to open for Texas. A night to remember.

Happy New Year everyone.

Product DetailsHere’s the first of our High Fives from friends of MusicRiot.  Dean Owens has released 2 albums this year (“New York Hummingbird” and “Cash Back”) and both earned four-star reviews here.  Dean’s Top 5 albums for the year are:


“Algiers” – CalexicoProduct Details

Calexico are from Tuscon, Arizona and released their seventh album “Algiers” in September 2012.  The band moved away from their Tex-Mex roots to incorporate some New Orleans influences for this album which has been described as their most accessible and exciting record so far.

“Bloom” – Beach House

“Bloom”, the fourth album from Baltimore-based Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand (who formed Beach House in 2004) was released in May 2012 on Sub Pop.  2 songs from the album, “Myth” and “Lazuli” were also released as singles.

“Fear Fun” – Father John MistyProduct Details

Released in May 2012, “Fear Fun” is the first album Joshua Tillman (former drummer with several indie bands, including Fleet Foxes) has released under the name of Father John Misty.  Interesting fact for you; most of the development of the songs was done in Laurel Canyon, which was the home of the early 70s California singer-songwriter scene which launched the careers of Neil Young, The Eagles, Jackson Browne and many others.

“Life is People” – Bill FayProduct Details

“Life is People” was released almost 50 years after Bill Fay’s first 2 albums in the early 70s.  At that time he attracted comparisons with Ray Davies, John Lennon and Gary Brooker but lost his contract after 2 albums.  He has been name-checked as an influence by many performers, including Nick Cave and this album has been acclaimed as his masterpiece by many critics.

“Scrimshaw” – Nels AndrewsProduct Details

“Scrimshaw” is Nels Andrews’ third album.  He’s attracted loads of praise and songwriting awards and is based in Brooklyn.  His first album reached No. 1 on the US Americana chart in 2005 and he’s now starting to attract attention in Europe as well.


Dean also gave honourable mentions to John Hiatt, Richard Hawley and Jack White.  He’ll be touring in Spring 2013 and you can get the dates here on MusicRiot.  Thanks very much Dean for sharing your choices with us.