Five years from 21, did I miss the train or did it never come? – From “Five Years From 21” off the EP You Can’t Change the Man.
Greg Owens grew up in a small rural town in West Tennessee just 80 miles North of Memphis. The youngest of four siblings, Greg often spent hours making mix tapes of their CD collections. Inspired by the songs of the nineties featuring The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, and Alice In Chains, Greg started playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 10. By 16, he was packing out local dive bars where the bartenders made a habit of over-serving, and the local meth dealer would set up shop in the bathroom. It was on that stage engulfed in cigarette smoke and the attention of the riotous bar patrons that Greg felt he had purpose. Owens much preferred this atmosphere to the football games and church activities that many of his peers participated in. It was also during this time that the much older members of the band turned Greg on to Outlaw Country. It wasn’t uncommon in those early days for the young band’s set list to feature “Mama Tried” immediately followed by Nirvana’s “Rape Me”.
Now, 15 years later, it’s these influences that shape the sound of the pensive singer/songwriter’s new EP, You Can’t Change the Man. The 6 song EP was produced by Jon Estes (Steelism, Sadler Vaden) at The Bomb Shelter Studio in East Nashville. “Jon and I hit it off the first time we met when we bonded over our favorite Ryan Adams album, Cold Roses,” Greg explains. “From that moment, I knew he was the guy to produce the record.” Sonically, the project leans heavily on elements of Americana made most notable by Spencer Cullum Jr.’s (Steelism, Miranda Lambert) brilliant pedal steel. Greg’s longtime friend, Taylor Lonardo (Dylan McDonald and the Avians), takes up bass duties. This cast is also joined by inimitable drummer Julian Dorio (The Whigs, Eagles of Death Metal) to bring to fruition a rhythm section strongly rooted in rock. The sound is rounded out by Owens’ weathered voice that breezes through the confessional lyrics over equal parts earthy acoustic guitar and overdriven electric. Lyrically, the project deals with themes such as, love, alienation, and coming to terms with change; whether it is good or bad. Although these are not uncommon themes, it’s the authenticity of the songwriter’s lyrics that is unique. The compositions feel very lived in, as if Greg is inviting you into his life. In regards to the opening lyric, it’s not so much a question of if Greg Owens missed the train, it’s where will he take it, and if you will come along for the ride.