Just in time for Halloween, Dean Owens brings us something a little spooky in his brand new video for ‘La Lomita’. Ruth Barrie of Waltzer Films, helped with makeup by Dallas Henderson, has created a truly atmospheric video inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead Festival. This traditional Mexican holiday is full of humour and joyful celebration but there are also darker tones, which feed into the song lyrics and the accompanying video. It’s a visual delight: there’s snake symbolism, smoky lighting, Mexican cityscapes in the background and Owens fully made up, delivering an engaging vocal. It’s as if we see two sides to his character as we switch between images of him with and without makeup and between Owens’ moody ‘talk-singing’ and the tuneful repetition of, “La Lomita.” Owens’ words are heavy and bring to mind the plight of immigrants and their border-tales: “Down by the Rio Grande // You can’t build a wall // Where all lost souls // Make their stand.”
The song has a real sense of place, reinforced by the visual and Owens’ words. However, the wonderful instrumental support from members of the band Calexico really locate the song firmly in desert-noir territory. Jacob Valenzuela provides uplifting trumpet while Joey Burns’ upright bass and John Convertino’s drums make you want to move. Further layers are added by Sergio Mendoza on piano, accordion and percussion and Naïm Amor’s electric guitar. It’s an incredible line-up and they deliver their typically distinctive sound.
Owens says of the song: “The song is inspired by the story of a small chapel, La Lomita, which sits right on the US/Mexican border. 155 years old, it’s one of the oldest in the US and has long been a place of refuge, and a symbol of hope for migrants, refugees and wanderers. It was in danger of being demolished to make way for Trump’s wall. Fortunately (thanks to a determined local protest, and a regime change) it has won a reprieve for now. Joey (Burns) took the lead on producing this. He knew exactly what I was aiming for and it was so much fun letting Sergio Mendoza loose with his box of tricks.”
The song is taken from ‘Sinner’s Shrine’, the outstanding collaboration with members of Calexico recorded in Tucson. ‘La Lomita’ is also about to be released as a digital EP just before Halloween and the Day of the Dead, together with ‘Weeping Skulls’ (an instrumental from a project Dean has been working on with John Convertino and Naïm Amor) and two original home demos of songs from ‘Sinner’s Shrine’. It’s available on Bandcamp here. This is atmospheric stuff – check it out.
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From up north but now hiding in rural Suffolk. An insomniac music-lover. Love discovering new music to get lost in – country, singer-songwriters, Americana, rock…whatever. Currently enjoying Ferris & Sylvester, John Smith, Jarrod Dickenson, William Prince, Frank Turner, Our Man in the Field…