When listening to Calvin Owens's latest CD, Stop Lying in My Face, one thing quickly becomes apparent: Owens is not afraid to take chances, and never shirks a challenge. On this, his fifth album on the Sawdust Alley label he owns and runs, he gambles so much that you must pay very close attention to truly appreciate what he accomplishes. In a time when pop radio is just a gushing faucet of the thank you sir, may I have another, same ol', same ol', Stop Lying in My Face offers the listener something fresh. If there's another Houston musician as adventurous as Owens, please tell him or her to stand up and be counted.
For this album, Owens again collaborated with old friends, and as always, they represent genres as diverse as ever. From blues diva Trudy Lynn to hip-hop MC Snap, from the zydeco sounds of Chubby Carrier to the funky ministrations of Valdemar, Owens puts it all together and makes it as cohesive, as fluid, as right as can be.
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But never forget -- and he never allows us to forget -- that Owens's roots are firmly planted in the rich soil of Texas blues. Every track on Stop Lying is laced with down-home references, the kind that have made the trumpet maestro semifamous. Tracks like "Dam If I Do," featuring Lynn; "Mr. Lucky," featuring Pete Mayes; and "Sitting Here," featuring Gloria Edwards are enough to satisfy the most ardent traditional blues fan. Big band, dance and jazz lovers may gravitate toward "The Best in Me," which spotlights Vicky Anderson, as well as "Double Dealing," also featuring Lynn. Experimentalists should check out "Everybody Lives the Blues," a hip-hop blues (!) track featuring Snap. Almost everyone will find something to appreciate here. Therein lies Owens's real gift.