Review: Dean Owens – El Tiradito


Dean Owens - El Tiradito

Dean Owens – El Tiradito
Format: CD – Digital / Label: Continental Record Services
Release: 2023

Tekst: Bert van Kessel

In 2022 Dean Owens released ‘Sinner’s Shrine‘ in collaboration with Calexico; many of us agreed it was one of the best albums of the year. Now there is ‘El Tiradito’ which roughly translates into ‘Sinner’s Shrine.’ And yes this double cd is in every respect a true sequel to the success album. These tracks were also recorded in Tucson just before the lockdown and long distance with musicians from Calexico.

Cd1 comprises eight, newly edited, tracks from the ‘Desert Trilogy’ EPs that did not make it to the album for one reason or another. They might just as well have been, as they are all equally fine specimens of Dean’s storytelling abilities, drenched in the desert noir atmosphere of Calexico.

They  too prove to be the perfect setting for Dean’s soulful, melancholy vocals. All tracks are Dean Owens originals, Tombstone Rose a co-write with Joey Burns.Most remarkable is She Was A Raven, a more rocking, guitar-driven remake of prize number In The Land Of The Hummingbird. Added to them are two  very convincing home demos, proving the sheer strength of La Lomita and the Townes-inspired The Hopeless Ghosts.

The fully instrumental CD2 is the captivating  soundtrack to an imaginary spaghetti Western inspired by the tragic story behind the ‘Sinners Shrine’ in the barrio viejo of Tuscon and by Dean’s admiration of Ennio Morricone; most tracks feature Dean Owens whistling and he proves that he has thoroughly mastered that fine art.

Another prominent role is, naturally, played by Martin Wenk’s trumpet. Frequently there is also a menacing baritone guitar by Naim Amor. Even the famous eerie harmonica pops up here and there. Just close your eyes and allow yourself to ride the wide plains with Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson.

CD 1
01. Mother Road
02. Dolina
03. Ashes & Dust
04. Tombstone Rose
05. Riverline
06. She Was a Raven
07. Even When I’m Gone
08. La Lomita (Home Demo)
09. The Hopeless Ghost (Home Demo)

CD 2
01. El Tiradito
02. A Bullet And A Silver Coin
03. Canyon Without a Name
04. How The West Was Stolen
05.The Rain That Never Lands
06. The Final Ride
07.Weeping Skulls