Thursday, November 1, 2012


This Vancouver favourite has been on stages since the 60's, and has had a lifetime of highs and lows that make her uniquely qualified to sing the blues.  And sing she can, with a rich and knowing voice, and a terrific sense of melody, able to move into the spaces and notes between what the band is playing, real jazz phrasing.  As she sings, "I think it's very clear/what is happening here/I think it's timin'."

One thing about singing this kind of rollicking blues, experience makes it a lot better, and Bowen knows what she's singing about, bad love and good, Mean Men, good ones who don't work out, and raw deals.  There's a spiritual side to the album as well, probably a nod to what got her through those harder times.  But she approaches it all with vim and vigor, and that comes out in some well-placed growls;  as smooth as she can sing, she can make it rough, too.  This pushes the tight band into some especially funky places, working to keep up with her energy.  There are some awesome guitar solos to match her vocals, from guest Steve Dawson, and band mainman Harris Van Berkel.  This is vibrant, exciting stuff to my ears.

Bowen is pushing ahead with her music in what for most people would be their retirement years.  Although always involved in singing, she's also worked at other jobs, and done lots of social work in struggling communities.  But now she's moving forward in music, producing this set, and writing all the songs but one.  This is someone to be reckoned with, a dynamo on disc, and I assume in life as well.  I'd love to see her crossing the country on festival stages.

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