It’ts been two years of success after Somebody’s Child ! We hope You’ll receive the same success with this new, very different album: redisCOVERed!! (and the answers is, of course, YES!). Your album is a great collection of songs that everyone knows but… in a “Owen way”. Could you tell us what is your style because the songs you sing are so different from the originals…
Being a confessional songwriter and viewing music as something close to religion, I’ve always needed to mean what I sing and deliver it straight from the heart; so I found my own life and truths in each song I chose. I cover many styles, everything I heard in my childhood… classical, jazz, rock, pop, folk, black American music..it’s all one language to me, and different styles suit different moods. So having no self informed rules, it was liberating to change these songs both in meaning, sound and style, so that the listener would feel they were as autobiographical as my originals.
It was important to re-construction the mood of the songs you choosed?
I don’t see the point of doing a lazy cover of the original. So I look for myself in the lyrics and when I see that, then that’s the song for me! It began as a collection of my past re-imaginings, especially fan favorites like “Smoke on the Water” and “Black Hole Sun” (the latter of which was my personal experience of depression, and the exterior versus the interior), but I kept finding new songs that I could find my own life experiences and which I hadn’t recorded before. Songs like “Summer Nights”, which became a torch ballad about my first serious love who had a summer fling that broke my heart and obsessed my every waking moment (“tell me more…”)
The songs you choosed are form different time and different authors but the entire atmosphere of the album is so coherent. Do you think it could be positive for different genres to be so personalized by you?
I love that these songs cross so many styles and decades past & present , yet all feel comfortable with each other but that’s just speaks about how great these songs are… and that’s why I can re-imagine and re-arrange them. I wear them like clothes and disappear inside them hence the cover
How Leland Sklar and Pedro Segundo were important for your new album?
Incredibly important. After 2 albums and 4 years of touring together these guys are like an extension of me. We do a musical dance together, that’s thrilling and emotional and quite remarkable. It’s like they know what I’m thinking and where I’m going next. It’s a joy and privilege to play with a legend like Leland who I grew up listening to Leland without even realizing it… singing along to James Taylor in the car with my family. and a new star like Pedro. We’re all feel players who came from classical backgrounds but crossed into jazz and pop, so we’re incredibly connected and fundamentally come from the same place…
Do you like more classic rock or modern mainstream songs?
I like anything that’s great and makes me feel good.
In the funky or in disco or in musicals …or in classical rock… where is your music heart?
My musical heart lies in the soul, which is why my versions are soulful and so emotional. I’m driven by the heart and so is my music not matter what style
The first vinyl you bought and that one that changed your life…
As a kid I got Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the key of Life” on vinyl for Christmas and it was hugely influential on my music. He showed me that music is a language without boundaries or rules, that it can cross styles and genres and still be yours. He also taught me that vocal freedom was the window to the soul. Incredibly I met the man who engineered this masterpiece when i moved to New Orleans.. John Fischbach, and went on to record 5 albums with him. And even stranger, it turned out that he’s one of James Taylor’s closest childhood friends, and introduced him to another friend, bass player Leland Sklar!!!!!
In which way Joni Mitchell is important as singer for your interpretation?
I recently did a Joni Mitchell charity tribute show in New Orleans where I re-worked the first songs of her’s I ever heard …”Ladies’ Man” & “Cherokee Louise”. She’s the singer songwriter’s role-model and hearing these songs for the first time filed me with awe and the total belief that she’s a profound poet. So I wanted shine the focus on her astonishing lyrics, especially “Cherokee”, which is as cinematic as the words about child abuse are brave!
The musical arrangement in redisCOVERed is simple and sometime is with only voice and piano like in Blackbird of the Beatles’ cover. What is the best way to arrange a song?
It’s all about the lyrics and what they mean to me and my life. They determine the mood of the arrangement and where I re-imagine it stylistically Blackbird is a perfect gem that speaks to me of personal freedom and being out from the prison of inner darkness. So it really had to be a small almost classical arrangement, just me and Leland speaking from the heart…
Deep Purple or Beatles ? Soundgarden or Ed Sheeran ? Great difference for a great music or it’s only Rock ’n’ Roll?
I need variety in my life, like I’m constantly on shuffle! Variety means dynamics and drama, and I need both
A good song is always a good music or a good arrangement?
A good song is the marriage of great melody and lyrics. Great arrangements take it to another level… think Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle
In your future work as singer there will be Re-covers again?
I’m already working on volume 2!
Thanks so much for you music and your time for us!
My pleasure ……
Interview to Judith Owen by Daniele Massimi (www.exhimusic.com)
Thanks to Rossella Savino (Morning Bell)