The US desert states have always been inspirational for Leith born Scottish musician Dean Owens, from his first sight and smell of them, to times spent in an old airstream trailer parked up on the edge of Joshua Tree, to recording the 2019 Buffalo Blood project (with Grammy nominated producer Neilson Hubbard, Audrey Spillman and Joshua Britt) on location in the New Mexico desert. So it was a “no brainer” when Joey Burns invited him to record his latest album, Sinner’s Shrine (2022), in Tucson’s WaveLab Studios with members of Calexico.
Dean Owens has kindly provided his top 10 “Dusty Tracks” (some of his favourite dusty, desert inspired songs; songs that might very well find their way on to a car playlist for a journey through the American desert states).
10. “Bisbee Blue” – Calexico (Garden Ruin, 2006)
Played this a lot on road trips through Arizona. Still never made it to Bisbee. One of these days.
9. “Eyes Are the Window” – The Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers (The Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers, 1997)
Reminds me of time spent out in Joshua Tree, California in our old Airstream trailer. Dusty, dreamy days.
8. “Crystal Frontier” – Calexico (Hot Rail, 2000)
Such a great vibe on this. The trumpets are glorious.
7. “Alone In Arizona”– John Doe (The Westerner, 2016)
I love the darkness in this song.
6. “Owens Valley Day” – Mark Olson & The Creekdippers (Pacific Coast Rambler, 1998)
My family and I have spent a lot of happy times in Owens Valley which is just on the edge of Death Valley and the start of the Sierra Nevada mountains. This song reminds me of those happy times
5. “Crashing At Corona” – Grant Lee Buffalo (Storm Hymnal: Gems From the Vault of Grant Lee Buffalo, 2001)
This was a discarded track and didn’t appear on any of Grant Lee Buffalo’s albums until they released an album of unreleased tracks and alternative takes. I love it.
4. “Quattro (World Drifts In)” – Calexico (Feast of Wire, 2003)
I love the atmosphere in this song. Takes me to a warm place.
3. “Eclipse” – XIXA (Eclipse, 2021)
Great band from Tucson with their very own sound. Includes a couple of friends Brian Lopez and Gabriel Sullivan. I wrote the song “Land of the Hummingbird” with Gabriel.
2. “Forever And A Day” – Giant Sand (Tucson, 2012)
I love the humour and menace in this song.
1. “Sunken Waltz” – Calexico (Feast of Wire, 2003)
One of my favourite songs. It’s just perfect. I can listen to this over and over again.
ABOVE: Dean Owens with John Convertino and Joey Burns (Calexico)
ABOUT DEAN OWENS
Dean Owens is a Scottish singer songwriter. He started out in bands Smile and The Felsons, and has released eight solo albums since 2001.
His most recent album, Sinner’s Shrine, was recorded in Tucson, Arizona, with members of Americana ”desert noir” band, Calexico, and was preceded in 2021 by three EPs collectively known as The Desert Trilogy (which includes four tracks from Sinner’s Shrine, as well as several songs from the album sessions and others recorded long distance during lockdown).