Roots In The Round – Dean Owens +Robert Vincent +The Worry Dolls, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 10th December 2017

Wrapping up a ten date tour,  this caravan of rootsy singer/songwriters pulled into Glasgow for their final gig on a night that saw sub zero temperatures outside. Happily, a hardy bunch came out to see the line up – A Scot, A Scouser (their words) and the London based up and comers The Worry Dolls. Despite nursing a cold Owens led off the night which consisted of each act performing a song before handing the baton to the next one. It’s a concept popular in Nashville and indeed Owens got the idea for the shows while over there for along with The Worry Dolls and Vincent (the Scouser).

With both Vincent and The Worry Dolls nominated in the forthcoming AMUK awards and Owens recently the first Scots musician to showcase at the Americana Awards in Nashville there was a wealth of talent on stage. Having played several shows together the musicians were by now fairly adept at adding to each other’s songs be it on harmonies or occasional instrumentation, a skill evident on the opening number, Owens’ Valentine’s Day In New York, with The Dolls singing and Vincent adding some sweet guitar lines.

By turns they sang and played. The Worry Dolls (Zoe Nicol and Rosie Jones) showed why they have rapidly gained support with their opening song, Don’t Waste Your Heart, having its heart in the Appalachians as their banjo and guitar supported the plaintive voices. Bless Your Heart, rung out tonight with some gusto, is a fine song with the fire of a duo like The Indigo Girls while they took advantage of the venue’s piano for a fine rendition of She Don’t Live Here, a song that has a fine whisp of LA troubadours in the early seventies. Endless Road, nominated for best song in the AMUK awards, was a wonderful breeze of harmonies and sweet country folk.

Robert Vincent’s album, I’ll make The Most Of My Sins, is another AMUK nomination and much of his contributions tonight came from the album. Stripped down, the songs still stand tall with Vincent’s voice passionate as evidenced on his opening song, November. Lady, accompanied by some fine harmonies, was another song that harked back to seventies singer/songwriter days while Denial had a folkier air to it. An earlier song, The Passage, showed that Vincent can run with a hook and a poppy melody but Dancing With Devils had him fair and square in heartbreak country as he sang this sad and poignant song.  Finally, with The Worry Dolls singing along, I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins had a Gospel touch to it.

Dean Owens wandered around his back catalogue offering up the aforementioned Valentine’s Day In New York, Lost Time and a very moving rendition of The Only One from his Into The Sea album. From the same album he delivered a stirring Closer To Home before moving on to unveil some songs from his forthcoming album, Southern Wind. The title song is a powerful, almost anthemic number which recalls the polemics of Crosby Stills & Nash along with a strong nod to Native Americans. Last Song, influenced said Owens, by Ronnie Lane, was an incredibly uplifting performance with Vincent adding a fine and funky harmonica.

As we said this was the last night of the tour and the artists were a bit demob happy. There was some fine banter throughout with Owens calling himself and Vincent The Mary Dolls, a nod to Rab Nesbitt and their comrades of the night. They even added an extra round with Owens singing the inevitable Raining In Glasgow before they all joined forces for a heartfelt Learning To Fly, their tribute to Tom Petty. A fine end to what was an excellent night.

Author: Paul Kerr

Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.

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