Reviews – ISAIAH OWENS ..You Without Sin... .... (CASE102)

Isaiah Owens is a force to be reckoned with .. You Without Sin Cast the First Stone is inventive, raw and potent.

Gospel meets blues at the level of raw passion in the songs of Isaiah Owens. .. he sings in a voice that rasps like a preacher and leaps into serrated falsetto, letting loose gospel fervor as an exalted frenzy.

Brother Isaiah Owens is a force of nature. The latest installment in the CaseQuarter label's catalogue that showcases the extreme frenzied edge of all but underground southern gospel music, is another gone example of intense, vanguard creativity, spirit-filled vision and integrity. Having fronted the Flying Clouds of Montgomery for over 40 years, Mr. Owens bought an electric guitar, learned how to play some chords and went solo. His music is wide open, full of dissonance and space, strange elliptical phrases, dynamic utterances and slurs, and comes from the heart of deep blues. The sheer wildness and blessed wailing here is unlike anything one has ever heard whether it be on traditional hymns or his own compositions. It's rough, brutal and sweet at the same time. The spirit is in Brother Owens and he rises above the flesh by tunneling through the body. He rocks, he rolls, he slips, slides and strolls, with a voice from the highest heaven and a guitar sound from another world. Highly recommended for the stout of heart. This is sanctified gospel, untamed, untainted and beyond the pale. - THOM JUREK


Here is the one time lead vocalist of Alabama's Flying Clouds of Montgomery unleashing his overpowering melismatic falsetto and growling exhortations to redemption. This is accompanied by a primal guitar unlearned over 20 years of solo radio preaching on the Cheerful Angels shows at WMGY. It's Pops Staples meets Hasil Adkins in an electrifying devil versus angel axe showdown. .. There's even included here an ad for used tyres and other assorted combustibles down at Joe's Garage on Mobile Road, perversely accompanied by the moodiest guitar lines on the album. .. Make no bones, this is to modern gopsel as Schooly D is to Sean Coombs, confrontational, baffling, inspirational, a mainline to the Truth. Kid Rock may feel he's getting nearer to the Devil recording with R.L. Burnside but he would be scared shitless of sharing a song in praise of the Lord with Isaiah Owens. - STEVE BARKER

Hmm. If CaseQuarter digs up some more gospel music like *this*, I might have to consider actually going to church some Sunday... First they brought us that wonderful Rev. Charlie Jackson collection last year, and now this, a debut album of unique gospel blues guitar stylings and amazing singing from the 70-year old Isiah Owens. And while the Rev. Jackson disc consisted of private-press singles released in the '70s, Isaiah Owens was playing this stuff live on the radio just a few years ago. Owens had been musically active for some time before this, singing gospel since the '50s in a group called The Flying Clouds of Montgomery, but only picking up the guitar in the '80s! And being such a late starter on the instrument, he developed what you'll discover here to be a quite original style all his own. It's not intentionally avant-garde and atonal but let's just say that his self-taught playing is quite at odds with tradition...and makes for quite an accompaniment to his strong, accomplished vocals. With these raw, loud, rhythmic, dissonant chords he sure aims to get the attention of both the Lord and the radio listener. Casequarter suggests that Owens' guitar sounds like a sanctified Hasil Adkins...we'd concur and also add that if you've heard underground Japanese folk troubadour Makami Kan you will hear a parallel for sure. And like Makami Kan's music, this is certainly some honest, soulful stuff. God-lovin' fervor that can't be faked. You'll feel it. Quite recommended!

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