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Dean Owens | The Droma Tapes (Droma)
Isn't life strange? I was listening to a particularly flaccid attempt at a country and western record by some Brits (which we will not be dignifying with review space) and it set me to wondering whatever happened the Felsons ?? a fine Scottish c&w combo recommended to me by a friend a few years back and not heard of before or since. Then what falls through my letterbox but a solo album by the Felsons' front-person. It's his first solo effort and resulted from a trip with Felsons' bass player Kevin McGuire to work up stuff for an album in a lochside cottage in the Highlands with just some guitars, a double bass, and a portable DAT machine. A long weekend of walking and working filled the tapes with songs and jams. In the way of such things the material when played back sounded hard to beat in any studio and so has been released almost as is, with no overdubs. Except that only two of the songs on here are from that first trip. They went back to do some more, and finished off at Dean's home. Added fiddle accompaniment on a couple comes courtesy of Marianne Campbell from the wonderfully named folk outfit Deaf Shepherd. The results are direct like Michelle Shocked's 'Texas Campfire Tapes' ?? but where she had trucks and crickets in the background this one has wind and rain, and the fire's in a grate. The bare sound is a brave move that could easily have backfired, but it doesn't a bit. The songs have a strength and variety of tone and strum-style to keep you effortlessly enthralled, and most are memorable too. Lovely stuff.

Jeff Cotton
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002