Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Currently Listening: Just Dreaming by Owen Stephen (2013)

You may recall the name Owen Stephen from the credits of my short film Until Now. The Hertfordshire, UK based singer-songwriter was responsible for composing and performing the original music in the film and now after six years of solid touring with a variety of live acts has released his debut EP, Just Dreaming.

Originally making his name as a bass player for English alt. rock band The October Game he has performed a variety of roles, including as part of former Savage Garden singer Darren Hayes' touring band on recent world tours and this debut EP demonstrates the confidence of a man who has mastered his craft in front of thousands of screaming fans. His sound belies his relatively minor stature in the world of pop music and instead of becoming shoe-gazey and introverted like a lot of fledgling singer-songwriters, Owen aims for the stars.

His experience playing stadium tours shines through, his songs are wide in scope, offering the kind of large radio friendly sound that characterises such acts as Matchbox 20, The Goo Goo Dolls and Third Eye Blind, complete with catchy choruses and soaring guitars. I expect that it is only a matter of time before he is called upon to provide a song for a massive Hollywood romantic drama.

Owen recently toured this EP coast to coast across America, supporting Ramin Karimloo and it is the country influenced track ‘Place Called Love’ that stands out on first listen. It also garnered a lot of attention for him with several radio appearances and a review from KKYR that was quite effusive in its praise, calling it "effervescent and reminiscent of fifties era rock and roll but with a bluesy, modern twist...the beat is catchy and joyful...perfect listening on a sunny summer day." The same could be said about the entire EP in fact.

He wears his influences on his sleeve with clear joy; taking in Tracy Chapman, the aforementioned American radio rock acts, Barenaked Ladies and Jack Johnson amongst others, and yet never sounds derivative. The only negative that I can draw is the lack of overall direction in the EP, these are six very enjoyable tracks on their own but as a collection they work better as a demonstration of Owen's enthusiasm for his music and his versatility as a songwriter. The variety of sounds give a disjointed feel to the whole which might not be so noticeable on a full length album, which I'm told will be released towards the end of 2013 or the early part of 2014.

I fully recommend downloading this album from Bandcamp and if you're so inclined follow Owen on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for updates about live performances, new releases etc.

Comment below or why not tweet #justdreaming @bbbgtoby?

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