Having received Wade Bowen's CD, "The Given" to review, I prepared myself for a "new" artist...and was floored. This did not sound like a "new" artist...the songs were well written, the lyrics smart and the accompanying melodies well crafted but not over blown. I decided then that perhaps I should break my rule of NOT reading the "new" artist's bio before listening to the music As it turns out, Mr. Bowen has spent fourteen years building a loyal following is Texas, touring 200+ nights a year, and has won a multitude of local awards. He has five independently produced CDs, and "The Given" is a prequel, if you will, to his first full length Sony/BNA release.
Bowen's style, to me, is best described as a cross between Eric Church, and Kenny Chesney; smart, self written lyrics with a smooth, sexy voice. Trying to pick the hits on this CD is an exercise in futility; every track on here is as good, if not better, than most of what is currently playing on country radio. You want an uplifting, well written ballad about finding the one true love? "On My Way To Wonderful" is your song. Oh, you would like a harder, southern rock tune, about fighting back against life's kicks in the teeth? Rock on with "Beat Me Down". Feeling blue, want a really good, cry in your beer, I blew it with the love of my life song? Not one, but two..."Say Anything", and "You Ain't Got Me" would both fit that bill, and quite well, for that matter. Feel like honkytonkin? Well, "Saturday Night" will have you tapping your toes, and hoping that Sunday morning takes just a little longer to get here. You want a song about the most powerful love that will ever hit you..I dare you to listen to "Before These Walls Were Blue", about the love between a father and his newborn son, and not choke up, just a bit.
If I had to pick, the best, for me...I can narrow it down to two. "All That's Left" is an endlessly catchy tune about the physical remnants of a lost love, and the emotional memories that they bring back. If I were picking, this would be the first single off the CD, but again, any of the tracks could easily crack the Country charts. "A Battle Won" , about the battles we fight, us married folks, is an honest, heartbreaking look at those fights that just really don't have a winner. A powerful lyric with a simple production mesh for a country power ballad that has already taken a permanent place on this reviewers MP3 player. I don't know where Wade Bowen's legions of fans have been hiding him for fourteen years, but I sure hope they are ready to share him with the rest of us.
'The Given" will be available for download on May 29th.