Texan singer-songwriter Wade Bowen may not be a name you recognise but he’s an artist that’s worked from the ground up to nurture a strong following. Choosing to stick to his home state of Texas, Bowen decided not to make the move to Nashville as so many Country stars have done before him. After years of hard graft, Bowen has made a real impact on the Country charts. His latest album Solid Ground, is released this week through Thirty Tigers, following its arrival in the US earlier in the year.
Solid Ground is free from gimmicks and trend-chasing, concentrating instead on crafting an artistically rich collection of songs incorporating a wide variety of styles into the mix. The creatives involved in the record are impressive with co-writes from the likes of Andrew Combs, Charlie Worsham and Miranda Lambert, and vocals from Lambert, Jack Ingram and Lucie Silvas.
The album opens with Couldn’t Make You Love Me, which immediately grabs your attention with its harmonica intro. The confident rock swagger of the track provides the perfect backdrop for Bowen’s gritty and powerful vocals. He’s somewhere between Luke Combs and Chris Stapleton in terms of his vocal sound and like the latter he really packs plenty of passion into his delivery.
Day of the Dead infuses the mariachi sound that originates from Western Mexico. It’s a stark contrast to the opening track and it serves to showcase Bowen’s versatility. It’s one of the early highlights on the record, and the first of many fantastic tracks. Compass Rose is one of the most straightforward Country tracks on the album and it’s a real joyous moment on the record.
For several tracks Bowen utilises Lucie Silvas on backing vocals. What’s interesting is that her vocals, for the most part, are fairly low and used to harmonise with Bowen’s. This is the case with Miranda Lambert too who appears on So Long 6th Street with Jack Ingram. It’s an effective way to use big name guests without overshadowing Bowen on his own project.
The track on Solid Ground that really stands out is 7:30, which was co-written with Angaleena Presley and Waylon Payne. The lengthy track is at the centre of the record and it tells the heartbreaking story of receiving a call about a loved one passing away. Bowen told me that the song is actually about Payne’s mother but he sings it like it’s something he feels very deeply. Once Bowen stops singing, the track moves into an effective instrumental that builds and builds.
Elsewhere on the record the moody rock of Acuna is easy to lose yourself in, the raucous Fell in Love On Whiskey tells an age old story of alcohol leading to moments of intimacy, and Death, Dyin’ And Deviled Eggs provides a gentler, more stripped-back moment. Album closer Calling All Demons ends the set on a rousing and atmospheric note.
Solid Ground is the album that will ensure Bowen is heard far and wide, outside of Texas. For anyone complaining about the lack of authenticity in Country music, Bowen has crafted a collection that’s so pure and from the heart, it perfectly embodies the true meaning of the genre. Bowen will be in the UK this June to perform at the inaugural Black Deer Festival and Kent and I’m expecting him to be one of the most-talked about artists from the weekend.
Track listing: 1. Couldn’t Make You Love Me 2. Day of the Dead 3. So Long 6th Street 4. Broken Glass 5. Death, Dyin’ And Deviled Eggs 6. 7:30 7. Acuna 8. Compass Rose 9. Anchor 10. Fell in Love on Whiskey 11. Calling All Demons Record label: Thirty Tigers Release date: 6th April 2018