Dean Owens: Edinburgh singer’s pandemic delayed album launches with Edinburgh Fringe gigs

The wraps have finally come off Edinburgh singer-songwriter Dean Owens’ new album.

The man from Leith travelled thousands of miles to Tucson, Arizona, to record Sinner’s Shrine in which he worked with musicians from the acclaimed Tex Mex indie rockers, Calexico.

But while he made it home just before lockdown, his album only got its launch this week.

Plans to unveil it at the 2021 Celtic Connections festival were put on hold after the major event in Glasgow was hit by continuing pandemic restrictions.

Dean Owens (PIc: Gaelle Beri )

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    A global shortage of vinyl also hit the production of the album, but, despite the setbacks, it has been getting a lot of positive reaction.

    “The Calexico connection has certainly opened doors. They are really big in Europe,” said Dean. “Rolling Stone in France picked it as their album of the week which was fantastic.

    “To see Sinner’s Shrine finally getting its release into the world is a very special moment for me. Working with the guys from Calexico in Tucson was a magical time before lockdown and the pandemic.

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    Dean Owens (centre) John Convertino and Joey Burns from Calexico (Pic: Gaelle Beri)

    “We recorded it out in the land of the Sonoran Desert and it almost feels like it’s been buried in the sand for the past 18 months or so. It’s time now to brush away that sand and share with everyone!”

    Sinner’s Shrine is infused with Tucson’s incredibly vibrant music scene - exactly what Dean set out to achieve.

    “I’ve recorded in Nashville and New York, and Tucson was always on my list of places to go and make a record,” he said.

    “It’s a real melting pot of cultures - it’s close to the Mexican border, and the musicians come from many many cultures and that all seeps into the music.”

    Add in the desert landscape and the presence of Calexico, and the result is an accomplished album with rich musical roots which span everything from mariachi to more than a hint of the unmistakable Spaghetti Western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone.

    It also features several collaborations, plus two old songs re-worked - New Mexico and After The Rain - and the songs capture so much of the unique Tucson landscape, and bring to life so many people and the stories Owens wants to tell.

    His patience with its launch has certainly paid off with positive reviews, and, finally, a chance to play its songs live.

    “It was a hard decision to hold it back last year, but it was the right one - there was no chance go on tour to promote it - and now it has paid off,” he said.

    “We now have an opportunity to launch it all over again.”

    Dean recently opened for Texas at Edinburgh Castle, and last week saw him join a host of stars at a celebration of the music of Nanci Griffith at Perth Theatre - a venue where he once supported the late and much-loved American singer.

    His next gigs are all local.

    He is on stage at Fringe By The Sea on North Berwick on Thursday, August 11 with his band, The Sinners, and guest Kirsten Adamson.

    He has solo shows at the Edinburgh fringe Festival - August 12 and 13 at the EICC - plus a full band show at the same venue on the 18th.