Houston Music

Owen Temple

At first blush, Owen Temple seems like yet another Texas singer-songwriter in a field already rather littered with those who strive to be contenders but fall flat. He also once appeared to be aligned with the "Texas Music (Bowel) Movement" led by such slimly talented frat-rat cheerleaders as Pat Green and Cory Morrow. But as one digs into what Temple has to offer, his merits start to emerge.

The problem for Temple is that it does take some digging, and he's not the sort of act who immediately inspires one to take up a shovel. As a singer, he's competent as hell, but there's nothing distinctive about his voice to catch your ear. Live and on record, his accompaniment is basic and straight-ahead countrified folk-rock. But in Temple's case one shouldn't mistake undistinguished with mediocre.

With each release, Temple seems to get more and more of the notion of what it takes to be a real songwriter. And on a close listen to Right Here and Now, flashes of the necessary smarts and substance begin to reveal themselves. Consider a line like "so let's not meet, for old time's sake" that cleverly turns table on a hoary cliché, or the sort of depth in his bluegrassy gospel number that declares, "faith without works is dead." Not every tune hits such notes, but there's an unassailable solidity to all that he does. Something is percolating here, and if Temple can learn how to step up a few weight classes, he may be not just a contender but a heavyweight champ.

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Rob Patterson