New York, NY (PRWEB) April 9, 2007
Reviewing a recent performance by Welsh singer-songwriter Judith Owen at NYC's The Living Room, Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote that she "has the kind of wailing folk-jazz voice that slices away surfaces to touch vulnerable emotional nerve endings and leave you quivering." Owen reveals the breadth of her artistry--equal parts emotional honesty, wry humor and deft musicianship--on Happy This Way, which Courgette Records will release May 22.
A layered homage to Owen's native Britain, Happy This Way is co-produced by Owen and John Fischbach, engineer of Stevie Wonder's classic 1976 album Songs In The Key Of Life. The new recording ranges in mood and style from the fun British Invasion pop-rock of "Painting by Numbers" to the wistful chamber-pop of the strings-laden "Conway Bay," and features a number of Owen's compatriot friends, including her frequent collaborator Richard Thompson, Julia Fordham, jazz vocalist extraordinaire Ian Shaw, and others.
For Owen, Happy This Way culminates a longstanding preoccupation with the United Kingdom--especially the childhood and family memories it represents for her, and the ways it has contributed to her current worldview. Her album Twelve Arrows featured the song, "Blighty," whose title is an affectionate common nickname for the blight country, and in which Owen sang, "What I wouldn't do/ For a little bit of filthy weather (sometimes)/What I wouldn't give for a late ride/ In a black cab or a double-decker." Owen also addressed her place of origin in the music-theater piece she recently premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with her husband and collaborator Harry Shearer, This Is So Not About the Simpsons, in which she takes on the strange culture and the politics of the U.S., especially Los Angeles, from the perspective of a British outsider.
Of course, Owen has a sense of humor about identifying as a British diva: she is accessorized in the Happy This Way album photography with a glass of champagne in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. Think Sandie Shaw, Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield--with a wink and a nod.
Happy This Way is the follow-up to her highly acclaimed album Here--the album that recently led to her discovery by NBC's "Today" show--and builds upon a body of work beloved not only by critics, but also by fellow musicians. Cassandra Wilson called Owen "one of the most passionate, mesmerizing, thoroughly creative vocal artists on the scene today." Jamie Cullum has deemed her a "female Randy Newman." Her collaborators on recordings and tours have also included k.d. lang, Keb' Mo,' Richard Thompson, saxophonist Tom Scott and others.
Owen has been especially praised for her live performances. Stephen Holden's review in The New York Times said she, "showed how much color and sonic depth can be extracted out of a single keyboard." Owen will tour the U.S. in support of Happy This Way, including a NYC residency at Googie's - Upstairs at The Living Room, June 4-7, and a performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, May 4; more dates will be announced soon.