ALBUM REVIEW: Wade Bowen - If We Ever Make It Home

Wade Bowen scores big with a healthy, Red Dirt meal full of new Texas country classics in his new album "If We Ever Make It Home."

Bowen's first single is a classic country heartbreak song that is surprisingly bright and uptempo. And it has already become a hit on Texas radio. Wade Bowen's positive, romantic theme continues with "From Bad To Good" and "Turn On The Lights" which reference his wife, Shelby, and her struggle to overcome postpartum depression.
"Missing You," “Ghost In This Town” and the hard rocking “Nobody’s Fool” offer advice on moving on after a relationship ends while "Daddy and the Devil" and "Trouble" offer warnings about temptation.

The key to Wade Bowen's success is his pure country voice that distinguishes his music in the crowded country field. The emotion of the lyrics ring true and the production is flawless as usual.
Wade Bowen has done it again. This is a Red Dirt album with red meat waiting to be devoured by his ever growing and well-deserved Texas country music audience. CountryChart.com

About Wade Bowen

Ask Wade Bowen what distinguishes his music, and after mulling the notion for a minute, his answer is basic and direct: “Intensity.” That’s because Bowen sings and writes with passion and fervent commitment about the matters that count in life with a depth of thought and palpable emotionality that hits listeners where they live and feel. And that fervor is matched by rich melodies and lyrical and musical hooks that grab the ears and imagination and don’t let go.

It’s a talent that’s made Bowen a leading light on the thriving Texas music scene and launched him into realms beyond with a sound built upon a rock-solid country foundation that also draws inspiration from the wide spectrum of music he loves, be it rockers like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith or critically-acclaimed roots singer-songwriters like Patty Griffin and Paul Thorn or his personal musical icon Bruce Springsteen. And now with If We Ever Make It Home, Bowen delivers a tour de force collection of songs of inspiration, hope and deep feeling.
If We Ever Make It Home begins with an upbeat twist on the heartbreak song on “You Had Me At My Best,” the album’s first single. A bracing as well as touching positivism informs such songs of abiding love and emotional support as “Turn On The Lights” and “From Bad To Good,” both of them drawing from Wade and his wife Shelby’s struggle to overcome her postpartum depression. The haunting “Ghost In This Town” and the rocking “Nobody’s Fool” and the bright nightlife lights of “Missing You” offer prescriptions for overcoming departed lovers and heartache while “Trouble” and “Daddy and the Devil” offer cautionary tales about life’s temptations. The sweet first kiss of “Why Makes Perfect Sense” brings out Bowen’s romanticism, and the title track and “Somewhere Beautiful” cap the set with transcendent song prayers for peace and happiness. As its title implies, If We Ever Make It Home is a lyrical and musical journey that is as fulfilling as the end result of the destination.

“My last album, Lost Hotel, was about soul searching and finding a new direction in my life,” Bowen explains. “This record is about being happy with your life, even within all that’s going on inside and around us. It reflects my hope that there’s a better future for us all and finding a better place, a peaceful place, while the world seems as if it’s going in the other direction. It’s not a record you can listen to once and get everything it’s about.” On it, Bowen collaborates with writers like hit-maker Jim Beavers and fellow Texans Radney Foster and Randy Rogers and also ropes in numbers written by some of his favorite fellow songwriters.

Produced by J.R. Rodriguez, If We Ever Make It Home matches Bowen’s strongest set of songs yet with musical contributions by guitar stars David Grissom (known for his work with John Mellencamp and Joe Ely) and Jedd Hughes and such Music City A-plus team session players as Tom Bukovac, Kenny Greenburg, Dan Dugmore and Aubrey Haynie, as well as guest vocal appearances by acclaimed singer-songwriters Ashley Monroe on the title cut and Chris Knight on “Daddy and the Devil.” It’s music that enriches the lives and souls of those who hear it as much as it does for its creator, providing a perfect soundtrack for both Saturday night out on the town delight and Sunday morning contemplation and reflection.

Born and raised in Waco, Texas in a family that loves music, Wade Bowen’s creative imagination was captured early on by his father’s Guy Clark albums as well as his mother’s love for Elvis Presley and the mainstream country music that his sisters enjoyed. Although he wrote poetry and prose from an early age and was always singing to himself, it was sports that dominated his high school years: football, baseball, track, golf and swimming, “everything that they would let me play,” he recalls.

Given his first guitar at age nine, Bowen finally picked it up in earnest at 17 when the depth of Guy Clark’s songwriting and the work of rising Texas star Robert Earl Keen “hit me like a brick in the face.” From then on his guitar became his new best friend, and he immediately began writing his own songs. Once he hit college at Texas Tech University to study marketing, it was only natural that he followed “the old school rule of rock’n’roll — get some friends together and start a band,” as he puts it. The resulting group — dubbed West 84 for the highway Bowen traveled between home in Waco and school in Lubbock — were soon packing his fellow students into the bars, thanks to the appeal of his budding songwriting talents. By the time Bowen graduated, his band matriculated into the booming Texas music movement and quickly repeated their success across the Lone Star State.

Eventually becoming known under the banner of his own name, Bowen eschewed grabbing for the brass ring of stardom to instead build an enduring relationship with his listeners by playing some 250 shows a year, which he continues to do today. “It seemed to make much more sense and be so much more fun to me to have some success by playing on the road. It’s such a great way to do it and it shows you every aspect of a career,” he notes. “I’m a big fan of Bruce Springsteen and how he did it before he became nationally known. It’s fun to build it from ground zero and watch it grow.”

His self-released 2002 album Try Not To Listen consolidated his Texas success as its title tune went Top 10 on the Texas Music Chart. The statewide sensation generated by his live shows led the following year to The Blue Light Live, an in-concert album that spent most of the next two plus years as a Top 10 selling disc on LoneStarMusic.com, the leading online retailer in the Texas music scene. Earning Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year honors in 2004 from MyTexasMusic.com, Bowen’s burgeoning success won him a deal with Sustain Records.

With Lost Hotel in 2006, the groundswell Bowen had stroked in the Lone Star State took his single “God Bless This Town” to the top of the Texas Music Chart while its video was a Top 20 debut on CMT and spent several weeks at #1 on CMT’s Pure Country 12 Pack countdown in the company of such stars as Alan Jackson and Brad Paisley. The vibrant buzz he had started in Texas also spread further as he hit the national road on the Lee Ann Womack and Friends tour and expanded his fan base for his live appearances into the Midwest and Southeast.

Bowen’s prowess as a songwriter led to co-writing “Don’t Break My Heart Again” with Pat Green, the lead single from Green’s Top 10 Lucky Ones album, and “When It All Goes Down” with his brother-in-law Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed on the band’s Garage album. He has also collaborated as a writer with Texas legend Ray Wylie Hubbard — who made a cameo appearance in Bowen’s “God Bless The Town” video — and Nashville-based Texpatriate Radney Foster as well as such fellow rising stars on the Lone Star music scene as Randy Rogers, Brandon Rhyder and Bleu Edmondson. His writing talents also recently won Bowen a publishing deal with Sea Gayle Music.

Living on the cusp of the Texas Hill Country in New Braunfels and now the father of two sons, Bowen is determined to stick to his guns and create music with meaning and continue to sharpen his aim for getting to the heart of any matter that inspires him personally and creatively. “I feel like what I am good at is taking something that’s in my head or that I want to write about and creating music that means something to people,” he explains. “I like for everything to not be taken for granted. But I’m also not always serious, and when I play live, I want the audience to have as good a time as I do making music for them.”

And it’s all a lifelong endeavor that’s embedded in Bowen’s heart. “I just keep doing what I am doing and stick to it,” he concludes. And in the process he brings us all back home alongside him.

About "If We Ever Make It Home"

Ask Wade Bowen what distinguishes his music, and after mulling the notion for a minute, his answer is basic and direct: "Intensity." That's because Bowen sings and writes with passion and fervent commitment about the matters that count in life with a depth of thought and palpable emotionality that hits listeners where they live and feel. And that fervor is matched by rich melodies and lyrical and musical hooks that grab the ears and imagination and doesn't let go.

If We Ever Make It Home begins with an upbeat twist on the heartbreak song on "You Had Me At My Best", the album's first single. A bracing as well as touching positivism informs such songs of abiding love and emotional support as "Turn On The Lights" and "From Bad To Good", both of them drawing from Wade and his wife Shelby's struggle to overcome her postpartum depression. The haunting "Ghost In This Town" and the rocking "Nobody's Fool" and the bright nightlife lights of "Missing You" offer prescriptions for overcoming departed lovers and heartache while "Trouble" and "Daddy and the Devil" offer cautionary tales about life's temptations. The sweet first kiss of "Why Makes Perfect Sense" brings out Bowen's romanticism, and the title track and "Somewhere Beautiful" cap the set with transcendent song prayers for peace and happiness. As its title implies, If We Ever Make It Home is a lyrical and musical journey that is as fulfilling as the end result of the destination.

With If We Ever Make It Home, Bowen delivers a tour de force collection of songs of inspiration, hope and deep feeling.

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