Brian Owens & The Deacons of Soul, Soul of Ferguson
by Brent Faulkner
Soul is a term used far too loosely in the current musical climate. The style has been bent tremendously to encompass all things R&B, BUT everything doesn’t fit the mold or the spirit. Some self-proclaimed soul artists don’t maintain the sanctity of the music. Brian Owens & The Deacons of Soul don’t experience this problem whatsoever. Owens, a resident of Ferguson, Missouri, is deeply invested into the music, retaining its classicism and eschewing the shallowness that oft pervades. With Soul of Ferguson, the accomplished musician has written a marvelous set of nine songs that preserve the authenticity of soul. Through and through, Owens and his Deacons prove themselves to be class acts.
Soul of Ferguson initiates in electrifying fashion. “So High” sets the tone, lifting the spirit to lofty heights. The groove cooks, the horns provide a bite, while the strings add dramatic intensity. That’s merely the orchestration. Brian Owens absolutely stuns vocally, flaunting a falsetto as ripe as you’ll ever hear. While Owens “does work” himself, the backing vocals further amplify his spirited lead. According to Owens, “So High” has a “dualism,” encompassing love for and of God and the love for his wife. Genius. As superb as “So High” is, “For You” arguably bests it. Owens is paired with the legendary Michael McDonald, who he’s opened for. It’s been years since the former Doobie and renowned solo artist dropped his own album, so hearing his signature, husky pipes is a treat. Him and Owens blend seamlessly – a match in made in soul heaven.
Soul of Ferguson rolls right along with missing a beat – there are no miscues. While following up a Michael McDonald feature is an arduous task, Owens and company do just that on “Pretty Fine Thing,” which definitely sounds like a 70s classic. “She’s Mine Part 1 and 2” looks back even further for its inspiration – the early 60s. Despite being old school, Owens brings a freshness and bite back to R&B. Part 1 keeps the tempo cooking, while Part 2 slows things down, giving Owens a killer soul ballad. His knack for soul and prowess continue to impress on “Beautiful Day,” which sounds both a product of spirituality and the influence of Curtis Mayfield. The final full-length song, “Benediction” is sensational, led by exuberant saxophone and fantastic backing vocals. Indeed, the response to the benediction is a resounding amen.
Ultimately, Brian Owens & The Deacons of Soul deliver a soul tour de force with Soul of Ferguson. There are no missteps whatsoever. At just 30 minutes in duration, Soul of Ferguson is a tightly constructed effort devoid of filler. Every selection has its rightful place on this project. No, R&B doesn’t sound like Soul of Ferguson does anymore, but maybe – just maybe – it should. Owens gets it. This is the embodiment and the exemplification of soul music, incorporating its unifying and positive vibes. More musicians should definitely indulge.
The Urban Music Scene