Bowman - 2000 Believe

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ARTIST: Bowman
ALBUM: Believe
LABEL: Self Released
YEAR: 2000

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: Billy Bowman - vocals, guitars * Zoux - hammond organ

TRACK LISTING: 01 Tear My Heart Right Out * 02 I Remember * 03 Time * 04 I Don't Want To Die Today * 05 Heart * 06 Waiting For A Better Day * 07 Walking Backwards * 08 Sleaze * 09 Possibilities *10 Do What I Want

Background

Yet more evidence of the sheer quality of some of the music occupying the apparent wilderness of the independent scene comes in the form of Chicago based solo artist Bowman.

A former student of Berklee School of Music in Boston, where he 'learned everything he didn't want to be', Bowman has already been voted Billboard's Best New Artist in February this year, and on the evidence of his mature debut album 'Believe' that award is wholly deserved.

The Songs

Displaying some of the finest pop-rock hooks you are likely to hear outside the Top 40 this year, the album's crisp production belies its minuscule budget, and the strength of much of the material goes against the expected standard of a debut disc.

Bowman's varied influences collide with spectacular effect on slamming opener 'Tear My Heart Right Out', which has a sound somewhere between Pearl Jam, Tom Petty and Gingersol, as well as a melody as infectious as a bout of flu in a doctor's surgery.

The song kicks off a superb opening quartet of tunes that have a lot to do with the enduring appeal of 'Believe', and provides a snapshot of Bowman's songwriting prowess.

The acoustic balladry of 'I Remember' strangely follows such a hi-tempo start, but develops into perhaps the album's strongest track, with its simplistic, introspective lyrics and some gorgeous Hammond work courtesy of producer Zoux.

Indeed the Hammond Organ provides Bowman's songs with an intensity and depth to match his often raspy vocal performance, and quickly becomes a trademark of his sound on other standouts, notably the raucous rock of 'Time' and poppier sensibilities of 'I Don't Wanna Die Today'.

After such an auspicious start perhaps it's understandable that the labouring 'Heart' fails to maintain such high standards. However, normal service is quickly resumed on the soulful 'Waiting For a Better Day' (which shows Bowman is no slouch on guitar either) and the groovy 70's funk rock of 'Walking Backwards' complete with a hook you could catch salmon on.

'Believe' ends with the chugging rock of 'Do What I Want', framed by some unusual instrumentation.

In Summary

At times Bowman's voice seems to struggle and show signs of weakness, but overall the way 'Believe' impresses with such well crafted, considered songs and playing, Bowman may have to get a bigger mantelpiece to make room for more accolades.


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