Dalannah And Owen, 'Been Around A While,' Quest Records [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt on Aug 27, 2015 12:56 PM EDT
Dalannah and Owen Dalannah and Owen's 'Been Around a While' is the most unique blues CD of the year. (Photo : Jason Kanyo)

Jazz and gospel vocalist Dalannah Gail Brown is a homeless advocate in her native Vancouver, Canada. Owen Owen Owen is a classically trained bassist. They met just last year and fell in musical love together over the blues. Their duet CD, Been Around A While, brings their years of cumulative experience to an 11-song debut that has Dalannah alternately purring, charging, testifying, demanding and beseeching all to the sound of just Owen's bass (double-tracked on most cuts). As a result, it stands out amongst the glut of indie blues releases.

It actually sounds like there's more going on than there is. Owen is inventive and empathetic to Dalannah's every breath. Her phrasing has one foot in church and one foot in the whorehouse. So "Walkin' Blues" (Son House), "Why I Sing The Blues" (BB King), "Come On In My Kitchen" (Robert Johnson), "Inner City Blues" (Marvin Gaye) and "Blues Mother Of Sin" (Billy Eckstine) all have that sin/salvation dichotomy at their root. They even do Harry Nilsson's "Early In The Morning" (which is actually a cover of a 1947 Louis Jordan swing).

To her credit, she pulls it off. Dalannah carries the whole album despite its musical minimalism. When you don't have much to work with, segues are important, dynamics even more so. What could've been a maudlin one-dimensional affair is, surprisingly, engaging, endearing, soulful and attention grabbing.

Plus, they can write. Their five originals reek of authenticity when juxtaposed with the covered classics. From the title track: "I don't have all the answers/I don't know where you been/But right now I'm celebrating/Grinnin' in my own skin/Here comes another day/Here comes another chance/To walk in freedom and cherish life's romance." Amen, brother.

They took a chance. It paid off. Been Around A While is arguably the most unique blues CD of the year.

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TagsDalannah and Owen, Dalannah Gail Brown, Owen Owen Owen, REVIEW

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