Brian Owens & The Deacons of Soul ‘Beautiful Day’ CD (Sweet Soul) 4/5

brian-owens-deacons-of-soulThis excellent 13 track album has been knocking around since early April but it has been so damn hard to acquire, I decided not to review until it became more widely available. The other issue is the silly price, expect to pay between £34 & £60 which for most working class folk is well out of reach. Amazon have had limited copies and there is a Japanese site that has them but the site is in Japanese and makes no effort to communicate with those of us that don’t speak the language – trying to work your way around that site is an absolute nightmare, a very good friend of mine ordered one from that site and he wasn’t sure whether he was ever going to receive it, whether he was charged the correct price etc. It did arrive but it cost him some serious money. Having said all that, I’m glad I pursued it because at times it really is a thing of soulful beauty. Belated I know but with the year running out quicker than we retain England football managers I decided it should at least get a review not-withstanding the issues discussed. Musically, lyrically and vocally it is the complete album, one you can put on, no skipping of tracks needed, the sound is modern with a very retro 70’s feel, an abundance of strings and horns supported by various other real instruments. The title track had received some plays on soul radio back in April-ish but nothing since, an excellent subtle dancer that really should be more widely known.
For more of the same “So High” shatters the silence, the arrangement echoes Curtis Mayfield – a constant replay here, “Pretty Fine Thing” has prominent horns and guitar and ups the pace a touch. Another standout is “So High”, an uptempo dancer that has everything chucked into the mix. For these old ears the Marvin Gaye inspired “Prayer for the Children” is the best track, an inspired piece of writing with a production to match, and set at a stepper’s pace with an almost choral backing. It really doesn’t get any better than this, the strings are so haunting in this setting, “Desperation” is fast coming up on the rails too, a meaty choppy crossover tune with its dominant percussion, very hard to sit still to this. The last 3 tracks are bonus [Japan LTD CD] tracks which suggests there might be a 10 tracker out there somewhere, but I can’t find it! The last track is another superb grower and 60’s influenced sparse dancer, right up my street, a great way to end the album. I can’t give this album the rating it deserves due to the unnecessary cost.

Brian Goucher