A Song For The Dark Times - The Rebus/Cash/Calexico connection

5,000 mile collaboration (with Calexico’s John Convertino and Instrumentalist of the Year Thomas Collison) inspired by Ian Rankin’s new Rebus book of the same title. And a blackbird


Scary Biscuits Promotions

It’s exciting when creative people come together and cross-pollinate with inspiration. What a treat then that Edinburgh's dark lord of murder mystery and Leith's prime purveyor of "miserable" songs have come up with a simultaneous book and song outing, with their respective outputs sharing a title – A Song For The Dark Times. Supplemented by talented video creator Ruth Barrie.

The link came about when internationally celebrated “tartan noir” crime author Ian Rankin was chatting to award winning singer songwriter Dean Owens about his new Inspector Rebus novel at Cash Back In Fife, the festival Dean organised, and where Ian was performing. Just 2 weeks later the whole country was in lockdown. Dean found himself awakened every morning at 4.30am by a blackbird outside his window, singing its heart out while all the humans were stuck inside.

Dean says: “The blackbird’s song really got stuck in my head. He kept waking me up in the wee small hours, so one morning I got up and turned it into this song. Ian’s book title was also resonating in my head and it all just came together. I let Ian hear a rough sketch and he really liked it”.

The next step was to send it to Calexico drummer, John Convertino in El Paso, Texas, with whom Dean had recently been collaborating (along with the rest of the band) on his next album, Sinner’s Shrine (due out 2021). John was likewise very enthusiastic and offered to come up with drum parts from his home studio. The song was completed by AMA-UK Instrumentalist of the Year Thomas Collison in London, who added keys, mellotron, bass and slide. It was then mixed and mastered at Slate Room Studio, Scotland. The result is a beautiful piece of melancholia, with a touch of Ronnie Lane and a bit of a “last chance saloon” feel, especially via Convertino’s drums.

Dean: “I was really chuffed to get John involved as he is one of my favourite drummers.
Tom Collison is part of my Southerners band and it’s been so frustrating not to be out on the road with them this year, so being able to collaborate long distance is a little bit of compensation”

Finally, Dean’s regular video maker Ruth Barrie (Waltzer Films) was inspired to come up with a video (at very short notice) that is ethereal, moody and slightly psychedelic, complementing both the darker shades and the lighter moods of the song beautifully.

A Song For The Dark Times – the book, the song and the video, continue to be tied together – with Rankin’s book being published on 1st Oct and Dean’s song being released on 2nd. It’s available on all digital platforms, but especially on the highly musician friendly site Bandcamp. And a lucky few early bird Waterstones customers in Scotland can get a free download for Dean’s single when they buy a copy of Ian’s book (limited offer, subject to stocks lasting).

A Song For The Dark Times is Dean’s 5th single release since lockdown. The 4 previous ones – Hope, Rise, To Where The Heart Is and Let The Day In (with Denmark’s Oscar Mukherjee) - are now gathered together, with 3 other tracks, on an exclusive Bandcamp bundle – Single File.

October 22, 2020 5:36am ET by Scary Biscuits Promotions  

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