Review: Bones Owens is the master of genre-blending in his new self-titled album

By Erin Threlkeld, Staff Reporter

Bones Owens started playing guitar at the age of 6, and since then he has been a touring guitarist with noteworthy musicians such as Bon Jovi and Mikky Ekko. Courtesy/Elizabeth Owens

Missouri-born musician Bones Owens has been a master of weaving together elements from different music genres like punk blues and indie rock since childhood.

Owens started playing piano at age 6, guitar at 10 and went on to become a songwriter at 13, while playing in rock bands throughout high school and college.

Owens was raised in a musical family and said he transitioned to being a guitarist when he went to music lessons and saw other students playing the instrument.

“I did grow up in a musical household. My parents sing, and my mom plays piano,” Owens said.

His band, Arlington, landed him a publishing deal with the music industry company EMI, which brought him to Nashville, Tennessee, where he currently lives.

He was a studio and touring guitarist for noteworthy musicians such as Bon Jovi, Mikky Ekko and Yelawolf. His raw talent was first displayed in his debut EP “Hurt No One,” which was released in 2014. His mellow but scratchy voice carried the title track with little instrumentation in the background.

Owens’ new self-titled LP “Bones Owens” tells a story through its lyrics and is an introspective reflection of where he came from and the places he has been.

“Bones Owens,” released on Feb. 27, takes a deep dive into his childhood in rural Missouri and his more recent experiences in Nashville. The blues chords and their narrative style sound as though he is physically reaching into the depths of his memories and releasing them through his songs.

His song “Country Man” conjures up a day-in-the-life of a Southern man living in a rural area. The lyrics, “Black dog on a rusty chain/Broken windows and cellophane/Front yard, barking in the rain,” are a glimpse into the Missouri neighborhood Owens came from.

The steady beat of the drums and the guitar’s syncopation create a gritty sound, and the tempo adds a carefree feeling, taking the listener on a walk down a dirt road with Owens.

Owens said old places he has once been to come to mind when he writes songs like “Country Man.” He lived in Missouri for 21 years, and many of his memories like his guitar lessons and playing in his friends’ garages are still attached to his hometown, he said.

Owens considers himself a nostalgic musician and said it is important to incorporate elements of where he came from in his music because it is the core of his existence. 

“There’s something that is still alive about it in me. It’s still a part of who I am,” Owens said.

His music is eclectic and a fusion of his musical roots: alternative indie rock with elements of blues. This fusion is especially apparent in “Tell Me,” as Owens plays a flat key on his electric guitar common in blues chords and percussion that sounds like a church congregation clapping their hands in unison.

Owens said throughout the evolution of his music, he collaborated with musicians from a variety of genres such as pop, southern rock and singer-songwriter poets, and now he incorporates many elements into his own music. 

“I suppose that you grab pieces of all that along the way, whether you realize it or not,” Owen said.

Owens said the creation of his recent LP started with his single “Keep it Close,” a song with elements of rock with electric guitar and drum beats that sound like stomping feet.

While listening to the song, people may get the urge to stomp their feet and rock to the down beats of the guitar.

He began working on the single three years ago and said it catapulted the direction he wanted to take for rest of the album.

“I think of music as a part of your legacy. An album is sort of like a child … you are leaving something behind every time you release something and put it out into the world,” Owens said.

You can listen to “Bones Owens” on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.