Robert Owens Robert OwensArt
A Burberry shirt done up to the top button. A grey Benetton jersey. A clean shave. Armani Lui cologne all over the body. A shiny black G-Shock. A tidily buttoned black Lacoste jacket. Metallic blue Levi’s 511 trousers. Nike Blazer sneakers. A white line on the table. Robert Owens on the sound system. Sensual dancing in front of the mirror. You know you’re gonna get some tonight. You know you’re a player. You know that, with Owens whispering in your ear that you’re God on a deep-house rhythm, you could get into bed with Duffy and Kirsten Dunst at the same time and that they would call you back the next day because they wanted more. The man returns. Oh, does he return.
Despite of his religious believes, Robert Owens is all about lewdness and seduction. He’s got the kind of voice that makes you walk as if you were a piece of sex candy, at the disposal of the finest appetites. The man has got charisma. Lots of charisma. Our youngest readers probably don’t know that at the end of the eighties, Owens was the voice of the Chicago sound: his scales, falsettos and baritones could be heard on countless anthems of the genre and made the ladies move with a class and sexiness like few others could. In fact, his collaborations with Larry Heard are classic of the genre. Going missing in action at the beginning of the nineties (it’s been said that he was managing his own Christian library. No, really he was), he returned to the clubs a decade later, thanks to his collaborations with the capos of the new wave of electronica such as Photek and Layo & Bushwacka! (probably thanks to these last two, his name started to get around again with force), but his most exceptional students, like Mr. White and Tyrone Power, had already snatched away the first crates of house trills.
But Owes doesn’t let himself be moved aside just like that, as it was one of his ribs his imitators were created from. I suppose that’s why he has decided to make clear who is the ruler of that territory, and has done so with a double portion that takes away any possible doubt: he is still the man. Larry Heard, Atjazz, Show-B and Beanfield accompany him on the production side, on a long trip of 19 tracks during which our hero puts his whole register to the test. From the hyper-sexual high notes of the extremely deep and acidic “Exhale And Breathe”, via the Barry White-like whispers of “One Love”, to the classy R&B inflections of “Step Inside The Moment”, Owens offers a recital of vocal mastery, carried by a corollary of rhythms that go from the dancefloor to the waterbed, supported by two unshakable pillars: deepness and soul. On “Art” we hear his most disco-y side, on “Moments” he injects soul elegance to the most minimal deep-house, on “Cherish Your Love” he goes all Café del Mar with a deliciously lazy and summery vibe, on “Be Your Own Hero” he dives into Lake Acid, on “Black Diamond” and “Pipe Dreams” he teaches Craig David a lesson in R&B as sexual healing.
And, although on the half-lit ballads like “Wonderful” or “Reach Inside” he makes the ladies shiver with a single movement of his eyebrow, he is at his best when he aims for the dancefloor, because he does it with style, with maximum respect for the most sophisticated electronic soul and deep-house, and without ever forgetting the teachings of the Chicago legacy. Convincing tunes like “Ancestral History”, “Unique” and “Rise”, possibly the best track on this long record, are in that category, small anthems on a shiny album that doesn’t smell like a come-back, it smells of justice. Óscar Broc
Robert Owens - Art