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Dollars and Dimes

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Album Review

Texas born and bred singer/songwriter Owen Temple is a country artist, but like Townes Van Zandt, another Texas songwriter he's often been compared to, Temple is as much folk as country, with a finely honed lyrical sense, a wry sense of humor, and a knack for blending melancholy melodies with ingenious wordplay that can conceal as much as it reveals. This album was written and recorded between July 2008 and January 2009, and deals with the current economic downturn. Most of the songs are taken at a measured tempo and despite the gloomy subject matter, they manage to be uplifting, a tribute to Temple's songwriting craft. "Broken Heart Hand" refers to the heartland of America and could be a song about a man, a city, or a country, a slow poignant ballad Temple sings in his low register with a trace of weary resignation while producer Gabriel Rhodes adds melancholy sustained chords on his B-3. "Black Diamond" paints the portrait of a dying coal-mining town with sharply etched sketches of citizens trying to come to terms with the decay that's slowly consuming the lives they thought were going to last forever. "Making a Life" has the kind of lyrical hook that great country songs are built on: "Making a life, not just a living." It's a great song and could find favor in Nashville with any singer with the desire to cover tunes that speak honestly about hard luck and hard times. "Golden Age" takes a look back at Austin, TX, before it started getting torn up by redevelopment, a nostalgic ballad that doesn't sugarcoat the good old days when times were bad, to plagiarize a phrase. Most of the tunes on the album are somber, as befits the subject matter, but Temple always finds a glimmer of hope, even in the most depressing scenarios. Still, even when Temple does rock out, he's not delivering anything particularly uplifting. "Memphis" has a sprightly tempo and strong electric guitar work by Will Sexton, but the tale it tells is of a country girl trying to make her living working in sleazy strip bars full of drunks, druggies, and women a step away from prostitution. Temple keeps the song from being a total downer with a dose of dark humor. "I Don't Want to Do What I Do" is a country-rocker that conveys the thoughts of a doctor, lawyer, and used car salesman dealing with the recession and their fading dreams. The sprightly tempo makes a good contrast to the song's downbeat message. Temple was at university training to become a psychologist when he dropped out to pursue his muse, and his ability to deliver telling insights without resorting to clichés or obvious images marks him as an original voice. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Soulful country-folk-rock travelogue of today’s North America

Austinite Owen Temple takes inspiration for his fifth album from his extensive travels as a touring musician, and from Joel Garreau’s book The Nine Nations of North America. Garraeu argues that national and state borders are mere geographical lines that fail to surround populations of like interests and lives. He proposes nine regions, such as Ecotopia (the northwest coast), Breadbasket (the midwest US and Canada), and Foundry (the industrial northeast) that are held together by shared economic interests and cultural beliefs. He asserts that what people do (or, in the current recession, don’t do) defines their common character more clearly than borders drawn from rivers or arbitrary surveyor’s marks. Temple explores this idea in a set of songs drawn from impressions or observations of these regions, from the rusting industrial dreams of “Broken Heart Land,” through the vast emptiness of “Black Diamond” and the title track’s study of the migrations that built and sustain America. He examines the social mobility that’s led many to wander rootlessly from metropolis to metropolis, often draining into the artificial oasis of Southern California (“Los Angeles is the city of the future, and it’s coming to get you”). He draws sharp portraits of working people whose labors are for “making a life, not just a living,” as well as those sick of their daily grind. It’s not as dark as Slaid Cleaves’ Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away, but stands on the same observational singer-songwriter ground. There’s a very American streak of nostalgia in many of these songs, including the fictional transplants who find adopted homes not what they expected, and Temple’s own memories of his early days in Austin and later years in the frigid north turn his pen inward. This is a more studied album than 2008’s Two Thousand Miles, though it retains the same soulful folk-country sound. Temple’s stock taking creates a more personal, more interior, less archetypal version of the Americana travelogues Johnny Cash wrote in the 1960s. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

Best album yet

Can't wait to hear the live version! these are some great tunes with great lyrics - great to have an album you can listen to all the way through!

Dollars & Dimes by Owen Temple

Good album record, CD... whatever! Good songwriting, playing and singing. I recently heard of Owen Temple from a friend and saw the gentleman the other night in Dallas. Also, take a listen to the Gary Floater album "A Hero never Learns" that Owen Temple made with Adam Carroll. The Gary Floater persona is pretty darned funny. But I digress, back to Owen Temple... You can call this record Country, Folk, Rock, but whatever you call it it really is a good record and I would suggest that you take a listen to it. You'll cha-cha to it all night.


Born: December 4, 1976 in Kerrville, Texas

Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s

The Texas-based singer/songwriter Owen Temple immersed himself in his father's country music collection at a very young age, learning to sing by listening to records by Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Robert Earl Keen, Jr., and James McMurtry. After relocating to Austin to attend the University of Texas, Temple began writing songs, intensely focusing on the craft of those who came before him. His debut album, General Store, appeared in 1997; Passing Through followed two years later. However, college...
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Dollars and Dimes, Owen Temple
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Customer Ratings