Hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as a “vibrant soul singer” who “bridges a racial and generational divide,” Brian Owens continues to live up to that praise with his new album, SOUL OF CASH. The project features Brian performing songs made famous by country music icon Johnny Cash. The album was released earlier this month globally, with Owens performing a listening party concert here in Nashville last week at the The Back Corner venue, followed by a Q&A with the audience.
Though he had several albums behind him, we first got to know and love Ferguson, Missouri soul man Brian Owens earlier this year. Backed by the redoubtable Deacons Of Soul, his 'Soul Of Ferguson' album was a remarkable piece of work. Inspired by an incident in Ferguson in 2014 that sparked off the whole Black Lives Matter movement, the album saw commentators drawing comparisons with people Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye. Indeed the cover photo seemed to be Owens' homage to Gaye.
Owens, the son of preacher out of Ferguson, Missouri had stumbled over the music of Cash via TV. There are some truly fine moments on here, like ‘Walk The Line’, a bass driven, horn laden dancer that could quite easily do the business on a dance floor near you. His version of ‘Cry Cry Cry’ is very much more to my taste, a guitar driven, head nodding ballad which seeps into your head, very Stax/Atlantic sounding. Now then, ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ is a monster crossover dancer with a huge potential, should it find its way onto soul radio. I went off and listened to the original and I have to say this is easily the better version, which may not sit too cosy with Country Music enthusiasts as it appears to be an anthem in that genre. ‘Long Black Veil’ is a thinking man’s lumbering ballad with deft musicianship which is kept to the very minimum.
RoughStock - October 18
It has been said that if you’re going to make an album of iconic songs (covers) that you should do something different with the songs to make them stand out. Taking a page out of Bettye LaVette’s book, Brian Owens brings out the soul in many classic Johnny Cash songs with Soul of Cash.Brian Owens opens up with "Ring of Fire" and blends that song into “Folsom Prison Blues” and then “Walk The Line,” bringing singularly fresh interpretations of these well-known classics, no small feat these days.
Gary Hayes Country - October 10
Johnny Cash has been covered by many artists in many different ways. Brian
Owens has taken the R&B route and has brought the soul out of these old
Johnny Cash tunes with his latest record titled Soul Of Cash. Some covers
are more successful than others, but they are all done with a passion that
shows Owen’s love for Cash.
WNYC - October 9
Soul singer Brian Owens has just released an album called Soul Of Cash, wherein he joins the long list of musicians who’ve covered the songs of the late Johnny Cash. But Owens’ project is different: he makes a case that these songs are a form of soul music. “What we have in common,” Owens says,”far outweighs the difference that I'm black and he's white.” Owens points out that country music has its roots in the blues and in the church, just like soul music.
Arcadia Negra - October 6
Todavía no se porqué razones el cancionero de Johnny Cash no se ha adaptado de forma prolija al mundo del soul pues muchos de sus temas son verdaderos himnos gospel ( lo cierto es que Cash grabó varios discos del genero ) pero no es muy habitual ver al Hombre de Negro en manos de un Hombre de Color , sin embargo BRIAN OWENS esta aquí para remediar tal ausencia con la propuesta de SOUL OF CASH. [There's no reason why Johnny Cash's songbook hasn't been adapted to the of the world of soul because many of his songs are true gospel hymnals (the fact is that Cash recorded several albums of the genre) but it's not common to see a black man in the hands of a man of color, however Brian Owens is here to remedy such absence with the proposal of Soul of Cash.
The Jazz World - October 6
There are times when you have to give a nod to the Old School. For me, this does two things: 1. Exposes the music to a new audience and 2. Allows the artist to show their versatility. Brian Owens does both of these things with Soul Of Cash. The album features eight tracks that were originally recorded by the legendary Johnny Cash. These are re imagined for 2017. Now, you are probably thinking, “Johnny Cash? Who in the heck is that?”
The Country Note - October 6
BO: I’m a preacher’s kid, so music was a part of my life from the womb. At an early age I was surrounded by extremely gifted vocalists and was blessed with numerous opportunities to experience the power of music that comes from the soul. I tinkered with the organ and piano as a kid but sports was my passion, so I did not take the formal study of music seriously until high school. I was also blessed to perform music in the service of our country for 13 years, an experience that was trans-formative.
St. Louis Post Dispatch - October 6
This year, singer Brian Owens explored the “Soul of Ferguson” with an album named for his hometown. Now he’s delving into the “Soul of Cash.” The album, to be released Friday, showcases Owens’ soulful spins on Johnny Cash classics, including the singles “Ring of Fire” and “Cry, Cry, Cry” along with “Folson Prison Blues,” “Walk the Line,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and more.
Rolling Stone - October 4
Johnny Cash was himself a master interpreter of songs, whether he was singing Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down," Soundgarden's "Rusty Cage" or Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down." Now, the almost mythic country-music figure is the subject of a new album that puts a unique spin on his music. Soul of Cash, a project by Ferguson, Missouri, vocalist Brian Owens, recasts some of the Man in Black's most famous entries, from "Ring of Fire" to "Walk the Line," as soul songs.
The Mark Snyder Show - October 4
Black Grooves - October 2
Few African American artists have succeeded in country music. As Charles L. Hughes wrote in his groundbreaking book, Country Soul,* “In the 1960s and 1970s, nothing symbolized the rift between white and black in the United States more than the music genres of country and soul.” Those who did cross musical boundaries to dip a toe into country music typically infused generous drops of blues, gospel and soul. Classic examples of this fusion include Ray Charles’ highly successful Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1962), Joe Tex’s Soul Country (1968), and Linda Martell’s Color Me Country (1969), to name just a few.
Paste Magazine - September 18
When St. Louis-based soul singer Brian Owens performed in the Paste Studio in New York City back in March, our engaging conversation encompassed a range of influences not immediately noticeable. Owens discussed his longtime commitment to service (referencing his time in the U.S. Air Force), community (through his LIFE Arts charity, which stands for Leadership, Innovation, Faith and Excellence) and all facets of music (from partnerships with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra to his two previous records with his band, The Deacons of Soul).
The Jazz World - September 16
Hailed by Rolling Stone as a “vibrant soul singer” who “bridges a racial and generational divide,” Brian Owens continues his celebration of the music and spirit of Johnny Cash with “Cry, Cry, Cry,” available NOW at all major retailers including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Spotify. In the hands of Owens and his band, The Deacons Of Soul, this early Cash composition and recording, released originally in 1955, transforms into a dramatic Memphis-style R&B tour de force, complete with a hypnotic, swaying groove, horn jabs and Owens’ stunning vocal performance.
The Urban Scene - September 15
In the hands of Owens and his band, The Deacons Of Soul, this early Cash composition and recording, released originally in 1955, transforms into a dramatic Memphis-style R&B tour de force, complete with a hypnotic, swaying groove, horn jabs and Owens’ stunning vocal performance. “Cry, Cry, Cry” follows the release of “Ring of Fire” which was released in June. Both songs will be featured on SOUL OF CASH, Owens’ homage to the Man In Black, scheduled to release worldwide on Oct. 6
The Jazz World - June 12
What do country music icon Johnny Cash and sensational soul singer Brian Owens have in common? Everything, according to Owens. He proves it on "Ring Of Fire," the first single from his upcoming SOUL OF CASH album. "Of all the singers and writers who have influenced me, the one who most helped me find my voice was Johnny Cash," says Owens, who has been lauded by Rolling Stone as a "vibrant soul singer" who "bridges a racial and generational divide."
One of the most appreciated attributes of a great artist is their ability to take a song that is already considered a classic in its original form, and successfully take it even further. While some avoid covering artists of legendary status, Brian Owens is tackling it head on in his forthcoming project, “Soul of Cash,” covering selected pages from the songbook of the late great Johnny Cash. If the project’s lead single, “Ring of Fire” is any indication, Owens may have an instant classic on his hands.
It is not surprising to hear that Owens lists Cash as one of his influences after just a few seconds of “Fire.” What makes this performance transcend eras is the stripped down arrangement guided by the signature guitar melody. Owens successfully keeps the legacy of the original track, yet creates a lovely fusion of St. Louis Blues, Memphis Soul, and Nashville Country. All of this occurs even before we get to Owens’ vocal performance, which is simply put, one of the most honest and soulful voices to come down the line in recent memory. His ability to vocally paint a picture behind such a clever lyric, adds to the greatness of this cover.
There is truly so much to enjoy about this track, as each new listen will bring about something new to appreciate. From the horn section strides to the background vocals echoing sessions at Stax, Brian Owens will have you on Fire after taking on this modern twist of an iconic musical statement.
Playbill.com - May 17
Owens and The St. Louis Symphony merge genres and to show why the connection between Johnny Cash to soul music isn’t a strange one. On May 21, St. Louis soul singer Brian Owens will perform The Soul of Cash: A Tribute to the Music of Johnny Cash at Powell Hall. Joined by the St. Louis Symphony, Deacons of Soul, and The Vaughns, Owens will explore soul arrangements of Cash’s country classics as well as some of his own original songs.