Fourth Coast Entertainment -

By John Berbrich
FCE Staff 

CD Review-Been Around a While

 

Last updated 12/2/2015 at 5:42pm | View PDF



As far as Minimalist recordings go, Been Around a While by Dalannah and Owen is about as minimal as you can get: Dalannah sings the songs and Owen plays the bass and that's it.

Yet there's nothing missing. Dalannah and Owen together have written five of these eleven songs. In addition they've selected proven tunes written by people like Billy Eckstine, Marvin Gaye, Robert Johnson, and Son House. Dalannah provides the vocals in classic Blues style-gutsy, dusky, and passionate. Owen plays the bass behind her and all around her, ranging from a simple blues shuffle to something that sounds like an electric guitar. Owen plays a 7-string electric bass, and on the bass leads his fingers tend to climb pretty high up the fretboard. Rather than a sharp guitar sound he's got that mellow fuzzy bass tone. And he plays a looper, which is apparently a foot-controlled device that records a pattern of notes and plays them back while the artist then plays over the top of the recording; so basically it's a simple way to overdub instruments or to lay down multiple tracks in real time.

That's the only sort of studio trickery that I can detect on this recording. Dalannah roars, weeps, screams, whispers, and just plain sings, her big dynamic voice out in front, while Owen's smooth bass sets down the bottom and crawls around the edges. It's interesting to note that three of the five songs written by Dalannah and Owen, each of which could become a classic, are up-tempo, sounds to get your body moving, while five of the six covers proceed at a slower, liquor-soaked, more traditional pace-the customary crying blues in contrast to Dalannah's assertive "Queen Bee" personality.

They could have added crying guitar, jangly saloon piano, jackhammer drums, and a bright professional brass section, but this wouldn't add anything essential; in fact, these additions would detract from the purity and the personal nature of this recording. Listening to Been Around a While is a beautiful experience, as this duo digs down deep to reach the heart and the soul of the Blues.

Dalannah and Owen

2015, Vancouver, Canada

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