Two weeks before the lockdown, Ian Rankin, famous crime novelist, was performing at Cash Back In Fife, the festival organised by award-winning singer-songwriter Dean Owens. The pair got chatting about Rankin’s new Inspector Rebus novel, ‘A Song for Dark Times’. The outcome of that conversation, from many months ago, is that these two creative souls are sharing the title and releasing new material simultaneously.
The vocal melody in ‘A Song for the Dark Times’ is simply beautiful and it’s no surprise to hear that it was inspired by the heartfelt song of a blackbird that woke Owens at 4:30am each morning during the lockdown. Owens explains: “The blackbird’s song really got stuck in my head. He kept waking me up in the wee small hours, so one morning I got up and turned it into this song. Ian’s book title was also resonating in my head and it all just came together. I let Ian hear a rough sketch and he really liked it.”
The song benefits from outstanding collaborators. Once the track was written, Owens sent it to John Convertino, drummer for Calexico, with whom he had been working on his next album, ‘Sinner’s Shrine’, due out in 2021. Then, Thomas Collison was recruited to provide mellotron, bass and slide guitar and keys. The AMA-UK’s Instrumentalist of the Year adds layers of gorgeous sounds to the song. Owens describes what it was like working with such talented musicians: “I was really chuffed to get John involved as he is one of my favourite drummers. Tom Collison is part of my Southerners band and it’s been so frustrating not to be out on the road with them this year, so being able to collaborate long distance is a little bit of compensation.”
Although melancholy, ‘A Song for Dark Times’ is warm and mellow, just what we need to listen right now, as the title suggests. The song’s darkness and light are brought out by the atmospheric, psychedelic video created by Ruth Barrie. We are delighted to premiere the video from Owens’ fifth single this year. Check out the excellent songcraft and performance from one of the UK’s most talented songwriters.
Photo credit: Neilson Hubbard