by Michael Andrew Garcia
Chicago based singer-songwriter Owen Stevenson has had exuberant experiences, as far as musical careers go for many aspiring artists. Fulfilling the performer role more than the artist one in recent years, he has a number of well-known venues in Chicago already under his belt, not to mention a few stints in some other states and out on sea across the world (as a cruise ship performer).
Owen has shown his versatility in the vastness of music with a cappella spells, directing musicals as well as arranging for choirs and orchestras. And now focusing on releasing his original music to the world, Owen attempts to shore up his songwriting skill set with his newest album “Right Here And Now”, a gentle pop rock album with a hint of country. But in spite of having a degree in vocal performance, Owen’s singing performance on some tracks lets down the rather optimistic vibe of the album.
The instrumentation throughout the 12-song tracklist are decent with the electric guitar parts standing out at times, Owen’s songwriting ability also shines bright enough to show some talent and identity just like the brilliant chorus in “Come To You” which opens the album in an enthusiastic way. But at times when it seemed like Owen’s vocal recording sounded rushed or was not well taken, the overall quality of the song dipped, just like in the aforementioned song’s pre-chorus and in some verses of the following songs.
Sometimes it is because Owen doesn’t give enough passion to sell the song like in the unsure chorus of “Love Is The Best Thing We Do”, and it unfortunately hid a pretty well arranged tune with an earworm-ish chorus. But other times, he pulls it off with better performances like with his convincing vocals on the bouncy tune “Another Day Another Dollar” that features delightful and confident little guitar licks here and there.
The songwriting ability of Owen is however untainted. In fact, it is to be greatly admired here on “Right Here And Now” with outstanding tracks like the personal and honest “Better” whose catchy and imaginative chorus masks the slight cringe-worthiness of the opening verse. The following track probably showcases the best instrumentation, singing, arrangement and lyrics throughout the album. “Save Me” has a very busy opening that leads to a chilled out, though short-lived, chorus and this song sounds like “the” song that would break Owen out into bigger scenes as it seems relatable to the newer generation of listeners.
The album takes on a sweeter note towards the ending with a more country-influenced tone going about in the second half of it. Backing vocals run around the slow-paced “Morning Sun” as it ends “Right Here And Now” with a bright sense of optimism as Owen manages to maintain an immaculate tracklist. He may not yet be a true master of one, but Owen Stevenson widens his skill spectrum, with this decorous album, as a growing jack of all musical trades.
For more, visit www.owenstevenson.com
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