Born and raised in Waco, TX, Wade Bowen started his musical journey while at Texas Tech, where he created the band West 84 with friend Matt Miller until he decided to pursue a solo career in 2001. His debut album Try Not To Listen was released in 2002, and since then Bowen has released nine more albums, including several live cuts with his good friend and fellow Texan Randy Rogers. Now this Texas Country Rocker has come full circle with the release of Solid Ground, his first on Nashville-based Thirty Tigers. Coined his “Love Letter to Texas” Solid Ground pays tribute to the Lone Star state in style and lyrics as well as a few guest collaborations.
Bowen had a part in writing 10 of the 11 tracks, with the only stand out being the album’s second track, “Day of the Dead.” Written by Keith Grattis, who also produced the album, “Day of the Dead” evokes a somber south-of-the-border spirit with a mariachi flare of accordions, Spanish guitar and trumpets. The tribute continues with “Acuña” which reminisces about the glory days that go by too fast while “So Long 6th Street” is Bowen’s semisweet goodbye to the street in Austin where he got his start as a new artist. With its melancholy feel, Bowen’s beautiful raspy vocals add a personal depth to the story and blend perfectly when joined with none other than Miranda Lambert and Jack Ingram:
So long 6th Street, gonna miss you under my feet
Sometimes I’ve gotta run, run till I can find a heartbeat
Tell Anna when you see her, that I was too weak
To look her in the eye, I hate it when she cries anyway
Well anyway I think she’s probably better off without me
So so long 6th street
So long 6th street
Being a Texas Country Rocker, Bowen’s influences include artists from the legendary Guy Clark to Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp and so on. These influences are heard throughout the cuts on Solid Ground, but perhaps it’s in the first track that hits you the hardest. Once the introduction to “Couldn’t Make You Love Me” starts off with a guitar strumming, drums and then a harmonica, you may second guess yourself that you put in a Tom Petty record. Even the lyrics have a Petty feel:
Yeah and we were there too
But you weren’t impressed
You were laughing at me
I guess you couldn’t care less
If I could move a mountain
If I could part the sea
If I could walk on water
I still couldn’t make you love me
An eclectic collection of musical styles, Solid Ground also includes two powerful ballads. “Broken Glass” is a heart-wrenching song about realizing not only how hurtful words can be, but how fast they can do irreconcilable damage and how there is no way to even start to apologize (While, while she dreams / I will be searching / So much rehearsing / Apologies / Will I, will I try hard / To be so perfect / She is so perfect / Oh but she is a fragile, fragile thing) while “Anchor” is equally as emotional but in the reverse. Here the male of the relationship is wondering if he’s holding his significant other back and if she would be happier with someone else, while at the same time not wanting to let go and be alone himself (I know I’m your solid ground, I know why we settled down / but I miss those days when I could put your head in the clouds / sometimes I wonder if our vow is all that keeping you here now / oh am I an anchor, just a rock you got to drag around). On both tracks, the presence of British singer-songwriter Lucie Silvas‘ airy background vocals add a beautiful, yet haunting element to the songs.
In addition to Lambert, Ingram and Silvas, Bowen gathered more of the business’ best to lend their craft on the album. Songwriting credits include John Randall, Angaleena Presley, Charlie Worsham, and Audley Freed (Black Crows) who also plays guitar with an all-star band that includes Jeff Trotts (Sheryl Crow) on guitar / lapsteel, Fred Eltringham (Wallflowers, Willie Nelson, Robert Plant) on drums, Billie Mercer (Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams) on bass, and Jenn Gunderman (Sheryl Crow), Rami Jaffee (Wallflowers, Foo Fighters), and John Henry Trinko (Randy Houser) on keys.
Along with his strong musicianship and songwriting, Bowen’s voice is something that needs to be acknowledged and praised. He has the rasp, he has the blues and he has the soul – a vocal talent resembling that of Chris Stapleton.
Bowen is indeed a triple threat, and Solid Ground is the album that is destined to put his name on the map outside of the Lone Star state. And deservedly so.
Expect to see Solid Ground on the “Best Albums of 2018” lists in December. It’s one of those albums that you
can need to listen to from start to finish, over and over – a quality that has become more rare these days.
Solid Ground is available on iTunes here.
For more information on Wade Bowen, visit his website: www.wadebowen.com
SOLID GROUND TRACK LIST:
1. “Couldn’t Make You Love Me” written by Wade Bowen, Keith Gattis and Audley Freed
2. “Day Of The Dead” written by Keith Gattis
3. “So Long 6th Street (with Miranda Lambert and Jack Ingram)” written by Wade Bowen and Keith Gattis
4. “Broken Glass (with Lucie Silvas)” written by Wade Bowen
5. “Death, Dyin’ And Deviled Eggs (with Jon Randall)” written by Wade Bowen and John Randall
6. “7:30” written by Wade Bowen, Angaleena Presley and Waylon Payne
7. “Acuña” written by Wade Bowen, Keith Gattis and Audley Freed
8. “Compass Rose” written by Wade Bowen and Andrew Combs
9. “Anchor (with Lucie Silvas)” written by Wade Bowen and Jeremy Spillman
10. “Fell In Love On Whiskey” written by Wade Bowen and Charlie Worsham
11. “Calling All Demons” written by Wade Bowen and Seth James
Upcoming Tour Dates:
Feb. 16 – Tulsa, OK – Crain’s Ballroom
Feb. 17 – Kearny, NE – Viaero Event Center
Feb. 20 – Tomball, TX – Wade Bowen’s Alive & Alone Acoustical Extravaganza
Feb. 21 – Tomball, TX – Wade Bowen’s Alive & Alone Acoustical Extravaganza
Feb. 24 – Bay City, TX – Matagorda Co. Fair and Rodeo
Mar. 2 – College Station, TX – Hurricane Harry’s w/ Jake Ward
Mar. 8 – Washington, D.C. – Gypsy Sally’s
Mar. 9 – New York, NY – Terminal 5
Mar. 16 – Concan, TX – Rio Frio Fest
Mar. 17 – Helotes, TX – John T. Floore Country Store
Mar. 24 – Shawnee, OK – FireLake Arena
Apr. 13 – Hitchcock, TX – Galveston County Fair & Rodeo
Apr. 14 – Conroe, TX – Montgomery County Fairgrounds
May 5 – The Roundup – Boerne, TX