Wade Bowen came into my radar in the earlier half of this decade when I noticed his “Try Not To Listen” album in a Wal-Mart store way up in Washington State. I’d never heard of Wade but the album sounded pretty interesting from the sample I heard so I purchased it. Back then Wade’s band “West 84″ was given credit on the album but it was clear, from even then, that Bowen was the star of the band. The album gained Bowen more notice and he released 2006′s “Lost Hotel” to critical acclaim but didn’t quite achieve the national attention that many figured he would. “If We Ever Make It Home” has the sound of an album that could really find Bowen rise up country music’s charts.
The title track is a perfect example of this. Backed by a progressive melody with interesting percussion, Wade sings a lyric that strikes right at the core of the celebrity-obsessed culture. He sings “If we ever make it home, there’ll be peace like we’ve never known, nobody’s gonna walk alone, we’ll be leanin’ on each other, lovin’ one another, every wall that we’ve built up high, is gonna fall right before our eyes, love will surely conquer hate, if we ever make it home.” It’s an effective and affecting lyric that paints a wonderful view of what heaven should be like. The first track on the album, “You Had Me At My Best,” is also this albums first single. It finds Bowen singing, honestly mind you, about being a tornado of a man who is ‘the lone survivor of the wreckage that is left” after a relationship has ended. He states that he’s the fool who caused the wreckage. It’s a musically interesting song with blasting b-3, strong steel guitars and a rockin’ guitar all wrapped into a nice package.
“Turn On The Lights” is a song ripped right from Wade’s personal life as he sings about his wife’s post-partum depression. He’s pleading for her to realize that he’s there for her. It’s a lyric that, for anyone who’s seen what depression can do, should be able to relate to. It’s a powerful song and in the wrong hands this song could’ve been overwrought and overbearing but Bowen’s distinctive smoky vocal delivery and passion for the subject (and love for his wife) only make the song feel more real. Have you ever felt like an outsider in a town that you made a life in? Then “Ghost in This Town” is a song for you. “Nobody’s Fool” finds Wade singing about the woman who seemed to ‘own him’ but he’s finally come to the conclusion that he’s not gonna be the fool for her anymore.
There’s an inherent groove in “Missing You” that helps drive the song home while “Daddy And The Devil” tells of the way addiction can drive a man to be nothing like he’d normally be. It’s a song which features the always wonderful Chris Knight on one verse. It’s a haunting story song that gets better with each repeated listen. Written by Sean McConnell, “Somewhere Beautiful” ends this album on a very strong high-note. Much like the title track, it’s a song that speaks to a belief that love can show someone the way out of darkness of despair and addictions into something better or somewhere beautiful.
Wade Bowen is a singer/songwriter with the ability to pull some truly great songs but instead of just singing a lyric, he has the ability to turn phrase into something melodic and emotional. With “If We Ever Make It Home” Wade Bowen has created a record that should help bring him to the mainstream country music audience. He’s an artist that certainly would help to bring some distinctiveness to the charts.