Right Here and Now
First Appeared at The Music Box, July 2002, Volume 9, #7
Written by T.J. Simon
Owen Temple is a 25-year-old, country singer-songwriter that the music industry almost lost to the world of high finance. Temple was a student at the University of Texas in Austin when he released his first two albums, and it was there that he graduated with a business degree before becoming an investment banker in Houston. Fortunately, he never stopped writing music, and the fruits of his labor can be heard on his third release Right Here and Now ó a solid collection of original, yet fairly mainstream, country-western songs.
Right Here and Now begins with the catchy Accidentally Break My Heart, performed in a style reminiscent of other like-minded Texas musicians such as Charlie Robison or Robert Earl Keen. It has a pleasant accordion accompaniment from multi-instrumentalist producer Phil Madeira who has also worked with Alison Krauss, Kebí Moí, and Amy Grant. In fact, the entire album is written in a basic, radio-friendly fashion with a smattering of pedal steel, accordion, and fiddle that, at times, gives the music a fuller, richer sound than similar artists of the same genre.
Templeís songwriting features intelligent, world-wise lyrics that set him apart from his mainstream country compatriots. He captures the early days of a passionate romance that burns up like a meteor entering the atmosphere on the finely-crafted track Burning too Hot to Last. But the strongest cut on the album, lyrically speaking, is This Ainít Las Vegas in which Temple uses a card-playing metaphor to aptly illustrate the risks of love. He is even able to draw upon his financial background in the honky-tonk economics lesson Move around Money. And on Faith without Works, the interplay among dobro, mandolin, and Templeís smooth voice makes the song the most musically mature selection on the disc. Unfortunately, itís followed by the discís weakest outing Thatís Not Something I Could Do, a rather lame and ineffectual ballad.
The problem with Right Here and Now is that Templeís songwriting is satisfying, but not particularly risky or daring. He seldom breaks from the musical bonds of mainstream country-writing, even as he straddles the line between standard Nashville and typical alt-country sounds. Hopefully, Temple will combine his natural knack for lyrics with a more adventurous musical style on future releases ó a move that could deliver him forever from the world of spreadsheets and financial mega-deals. In the meantime, Right Here and Now is at least a modest effort that holds up reasonably well under multiple listens, and it showcases a few great songs that will undoubtedly stick in your head long after your disc changer has moved on to the next silver platter.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box