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CD review: Judith Owen, Ebb & Flow (Twanky)

A reviewer in another newspaper has praised this new American-made album by Welsh chanteuse Judith Owen by comparing it favourably with earlier works like the Linn-distributed Happy This Way, which were too "arch". In fact, there is something so studied about Ebb & Flow that it threatens to distract from just how listenable it is.

Produced with David Z and featuring the cream of LA session musicians (rhythm section Russell Kunkel and Leland Sklar with guitarist Waddy Wachtel), it is Owen's attempt to make a 1970s West Coast singer-songwriter record 40 years on.

And, indeed, it is executed with some style, from the lyrical themes mixing the personal (songs for both her parents) and the geographical (Train Out Of Holywood and I've Never Been To Texas), to the unlikely cover of Mungo Jerry's In The Summertime, the glossy sheen on the production and the hand-coloured (by the lady herself) photographs on the sleeve.

Owen is a woman of highly adaptable talent, who has shown herself to be as capable a musical foil to Richard Thompson as she is a straight woman to Ruby Wax in their strange Fringe theatre double-act, but making her own version of Carole King's Tapestry may prove her cleverest move yet.

Keith Bruce

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