Kevin Bowe & The Okemah Prophets – Half Past Never
Recorded & produced by Kevin Bowe in Minneapolis this 10-cut independent CD Half Past Never (Drops April 21) represents the solo work of a musician who has worked with many name acts. He has produced several Midwest artists & played with artists as diverse as Johnny Lang, The Replacements, Etta James, Joe Cocker, Paul Westerberg, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Three Dog Night, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Little Steven (Van Zandt), John Mayall & had some songs performed by Lucinda Williams & Bruce Springsteen. Not lightweight.
This is a collection of orphan songs – songs that never found a home on any previously recorded efforts by Bowe or other artists. Here, there & everywhere the material reflects some influences that could be found in work by The Replacements, Tom Petty, Harry Nilsson, Mott the Hoople & the Who with a dash of some East Indian vibes.
Kevin has material that shouldn’t be squandered in a box on a shelf. But when artists have residual material such as this — often there are little nuggets to be found. And that’s all part of the fun of music. A treasure hunt.
There’s a vibrant mix of music in this set but there isn’t anything innovative. So what? That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything interesting. The guitars jangle like The Byrds, Bowe sings with an optimistic pop tone that was popular in the late 70s-early 80s when bands like The Replacements, the Wooden Tops & Guadalcanal Diary were mining their sharply electrifying melodies.
Bowe does have a quirky way with song titles – “(Put Me Out of Your) Misery,” & “I Hate Falling In Love,” are pointed & clever. The songs are designed to be radio-friendly, nothing controversial, challenging, or political. Just delightful melodies strung along with well-articulated lyrics like “nobody’s gonna break my heart but me.” Some sound like a tweak would render them soft Velvet Underground/Lou Reed tunes.
Bowe’s voice is easy on the ears – not as aggressive as Steve Swindells, or as urban gritty as Willie Nile, but he’s as poignant as late-career Robert Hazard on his “Another Word For God.” He has style, lots of style. He follows a musical path taken by James Maddock (“My Old Neighborhood”) & Steve Earle (when Bowe does “If I Was You”).
The cliches come out on the hooky & gimmicky “Not As Pretty As You Think You Are,” but the tune rocks & usually — that’s all you need.
Highlights – “California Sober,” “(Put Me Out of Your) Misery,” “I Hate Falling In Love,” “Half Past Never,” “If I Was Were You” & “Another Word For God.”
Musicians – Kevin (lead vocals/guitars/harmonica/mandolin/keys/percussion/bass/harmony vocals), Paul Mayasich (slide guitar), drums both Peter Anderson (The Ocean Blue) & Noah Levy (Brian Setzer), Ian Allison of Soul Asylum (bass), Gordy Johnson (upright bass) & Tim O’Reagan (The Jayhawks) on vocal harmony.
Photo courtesy of Kevin’s website. The 33-minute CD @ https://kevinbowe.com/epk/