From performing for politicians to partying with Willie Nelson, singer-songwriter Dan Owen‘s budding music career has already reached some wild milestones. With country and western tropes fluttering throughout his songs, he’s got the ability to create catchy tunes that capture even the most sensitivities ups and downs of adolescence.
Owen began gigging around his local Shropshire and Birmingham circuit at just 13 years old along with his older sister, but went solo when she moved to university three years later. His name has been spread in some of the most unconventional ways, particularly on Reddit as he went viral thanks to an audience member posting a video of him covering ‘Ballad of Hollis Brown’ by Bob Dylan and the views climbed to half a million. He’s also featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and has even performed on Andrew Marr’s weekend politics programme, although he still isn’t sure why. His encounters with all kinds of music legends has lead to flying to America to see Willie Nelson play at Jack White’s studio, being mentored by Mick Fleetwood and eventually signing to Atlantic Records.
In 2015, he released his debut EP Bad For Me which gave the first taste of his raw and powerful vocals that perfectly twist around what would become his signatures bluesy sound. After landing him with great support from BBC Introducing, he followed this up with his next EP Open Hands and Enemies two years later. This entered the Top 40 iTunes Album Chart and reached No.1 in the Singer/Songwriter Chart upon release. Its lead single (and viral hit) ‘Made To Love You’ has clocked up well over 16 million plays on Spotify and topped the platform’s Viral Chart in France, reached No.2 in Belgium and charted in a further four countries.
In August last year, he released his debut album Stay Awake With Me. The beautiful title track is an ode to Dan’s beloved grandfather who passed away and is written from the point of view of his nan. Listeners can also hear tales of his friends getting caught up in drugs (the majestic, strings-soaked ‘Icarus’), of male domestic abuse (the stately, spine-tingling ‘Made To Love You’) and of the traumatic aftermath of Dan’s eye injury (the menacing blues-rocker ‘Hideaway’). The latter tells how he originally wanted to go into carpentry after already beginning to craft his own guitars himself, but an an accident in the workshop as an apprentice left him with damage in one eye. This severely impacted his life as he began shutting himself off from others but used performing live as a way back to normality. He told The Upcoming “I decided to pick myself up and worked out that if I did something like 150 gigs a year, I could survive. I’d ring people up every day until I did that many gigs, and one thing just led to another.” Not only did this improve his mental health, it also had a big impact on his music career as it propelled him onto bigger venues with more adoring audiences.
Just last month, his anthemic single ‘Run Me Down’ was released. Living up to the high standard set by Stay Awake With Me, it’s a percussion-driven ballad with more of a swung rock edge that perfectly suits his rough vocals. It was named Love Music Love Life‘s track of the day and also been played on BBC Radio 2 by Graham Norton and BBC Introducing multiple times since its release.
Having developed a reputation for producing intimate live shows, his upcoming gigs shouldn’t be missed. Check out his recent charity performance for Comics Salopia (Shrewsbury Town Comics Festival) which raised money for local people in recovery, recorded by BBC Introducing.dan owen / introducing