Dean Mueller

REVIEW: Dean Mueller “Life Ain’t All Roses”


Dean Mueller – Life Ain’t All Roses

Starting off his new CD with a country narrative style that was popular in the early 60s (Johnny Bond’s “X-15,” “Hot Rod Lincoln”) Oregon resident Dean Mueller’s “Sky Fallin’” & “Burn One Now,” are refreshing newly minted nostalgic walks down memory lane.

Dean Mueller

Then he covers Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” which shows how a rock artist’s tune can easily be adapted with a country emphasis. Dean’s voice is perfectly suited to the angst in the lyric. According to Mueller (acoustic guitar/lead vocals), each song he selected or wrote for this collection was created with a certain meaning & inspiration behind it.

Some of the songs are laid-back but not lazy. Songs like “Movin’ On,” have a little touch of the late John Prine as it becomes more preoccupied with atmosphere & mood than dynamics.

Produced by Kevin McKendree (keyboards/bgv) the 12-cut, 35-minute Life Ain’t All Roses (Drops June 16–Ripping Glass Entertainment) is a well-recorded effort. Some songs stand out a little more than others, but each possesses sincerity & skill. It’s not an overloaded country approach despite the whining pedal steel guitar. Mueller’s subtlety is reflective in the softly sung absorbing songs like “Life Ain’t All Roses,” which while not exciting is moving as a seasoned ballad.

The mid-tempo-ed rocker “Maryanne,” is chiseled from a Tom Petty piece of granite. Also shaped from vintage resources the song is rousing & easily danceable. Tight performance with an under-the-surface guitar solo smoking underneath the louder riffing guitar. Nice effect.

The tunes were recorded in Franklin, TN & while nothing new is explored in these melodies Dean has a firm grip on good styles, many are slow-baked, but the flavor is sweet even when they’re melancholy. The songs can be meditative, contemplative & inspiring. Dean says things through his lyrics that many less-poetical people wished they said. “I Wish I Said,” is a perfect example.

Dean’s John Prine influence shines bright on “Dark Place,” because despite the gloom it’s upbeat & humorous – if he had a deeper growl of a voice it would even sound like a Tom Waits piece. While many songs have a sad-tint they were written when Dean’s father was ill with Covid. So, the collection is easy listening but more than just entertainment, it’s a poignant testament.


Highlights – “Sky Fallin,’” “Burn One Now,” “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” “Movin’ On,” “Life Ain’t All Roses,” “Maryanne,” “I Wish I Said,” “Dark Place,” “Home To Me” & “I Wanna Wish.”

Musicians – Dave Jacques & David Santos (bass), Steve Hinson (electric guitars/pedal steel/dobro/sitar), Kenneth Blevins & Lynn Williams (drums).

Color image courtesy of Dean’s Twitter. CD @

Song premiere –


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