Dollars and Dimes (El Paisano Records), the new disc from Texan Owen Temple is an artful shot of reality, as told through the memory and perspective of a traveler with perhaps more questions than answers. Drawing on the current socio-economical climate, Temple has crafted an album that will remind many that story-telling can be relevant and revealing when looking into times of crisis.
The opening notes of the opening track, “Broken Heart Land”, set the stage for the entire album. Temple’s warm tone is reminiscent of Josh Ritter’s (another great story-teller) when he hits his lower notes. In that vocal tone, Temple begins by asking, “How did your past get stuck in a pawnshop?“. Where Ritter can often spin his yarns through poetry that contains a bit of literate complexity, Temple unfolds his poetry in a more straight-forward, plain-spoken manner. Temple’s tales of plain-folk facing ever-mounting pressure and continuing complication are more subtle and respectful methods of informing the listener on various hardships that are being experienced than the recent, cliched and heavy-handed pandering that the likes of John Rich and Hank Jr. have produced lately. By writing and singing about the assorted issues from a somewhat detached point of view, Temple never reaches the insincere depths of Rich or Hank Jr., as they arrogantly crown themselves champions of the disenfranchised middle and lower class who aim to lead a simple life and possibly stick-it-to-the-man if they can.
From there, we practically go on a tour of the great 48 (and beyond even). “City of The King”, “Memphis” and “Los Angeles” showcase sad and somewhat desperate scenarios. “Making a Life” brings in the hopeful glimmer as it reminds us that actually having anything of real value is indeed rare.
Where Temple’s previous release, Two Thousand Miles, was a true Texas Country album that discussed rodeos, tequila and love that lasts, Dollars and Dimes is a Singer/Songwriter record that leans on folk-rock arrangements to great and appropriate effect. While, at times, the predominant theme and vibe of each individual track can feel a tad redundant, the well-told and developed stories inside of each number helps the album avoid that trap as the cohesiveness of the songs subject matter truly turns into a theme, rather than a random bunch of songs describing various people going through random and various tough times.
Downlaod the opening track, “Broken Heart Land” by going to Owen Temple’s Website.
About the author: I likes me some wine, women and waffles, not always in that order (but usually). Chaucer is cool, but fart jokes are even better. You feel like spikin' your country with a little soul or mix in a little rock without the roll? Lemme hear from ya!!