Review: Judith Owen at The Cellars in Eastney

Judith Owen. Picture by Sue Flood
Judith Owen. Picture by Sue Flood
Black Star Riders: from left, Scott Gorham, Chad Szeliga, Ricky Warwick,  Robbie Crane and Damon Johnson.  Picture by Richard Stow

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Judith Owen likes to talk. The preamble between her coming on stage and the start of first song Train Out of Hollywood, is fairly lengthy, but fortunately Owen cuts an endearingly kooky figure at her keyboard.

The set draws heavily on her most recent album, Ebb & Flow – her homage to the confessional singer-songwriters of Laurel Canyon, such as Carole King and James Taylor.

And her rhythm section of impressively bearded bassist Leland Sklar and drummer Russ Kunkel should know this turf well – they played on most of those original albums. They’re also ably joined by percussionist Pedro Segundo.

Along the way we get to hear about why Texas is terrible, how you can get away with being unspeakably rude as a Brit living abroad in The States, and numerous digressions on love and loss.

The songs are affecting without ever becoming pastiche, thanks to Owen’s way with a melody and some powerful lyrics.

There are also a clutch of covers that are unafraid of playing with the source material – Mungo Jerry’s In The Summertime is reclaimed as a middle-aged woman’s paean to lost youth, while Grease’s Summer Nights is transformed in to a torch song.

For one night only, this little corner of the city was more akin to ’70s California than Hampshire in 2015.