A strong guitar solo helps set the pace for the start of the album. “Wild Ride,” continues the fast paced flow with a well-mixed blend of reggae and ska. Shawn eases in with some very silky smooth vocals. It’s evident from the first two tracks how well-done the production of the album is by one of our favorite Naptown Music producers Ryan Cullen of RMC Sound Solutions LLC, and it’s clear how the band meticulously structured every section to be in perfect balance. “Make Money,” the album’s title track (featuring Big Bad Vodoo Daddy’s Karl Hunter on saxophone), is when Shawn begins to deeply reflect upon some of life’s greatest issues. The song progresses from him questioning “How am I going to make a million dollars a day?” down to “How am I going to make a thousand dollars a day?”; and finally ending with “How am I going to make a hundred dollars a day?” A very clever and interesting way to approach the “get rich like a rockstar,” dynamic that you hear discussed in so much music. Yet instead of gloating about making money or looking at it as if it’s some easily tangible goal, Shawn recognizes it requires doing things like lying, stealing, or compromising his values - and understanding he’s not someone who would do that. It might be uncommon for reggae and ska music to take on some of life’s bigger subjects, but this isn’t your average reggae/ska album.
Shawn understands that the game of making money isn’t easy and he isn’t afraid to dive into the complexities of survival. On “Spending Time,” Shawn continues the inflection, wondering why we do the things we do in the party music lifestyle, but in the end it’s all worth it. “Walk of Shame,” gets down to the dub, hard blazing reggae with the clavinet dropping in some funk.
One of my favorite songs on the album is “Morning Light,” a sweet, somber song that leads the second half of the album away from the rowdy party vibes and gets a little more serious. It’s a beautiful Irish folk song duet with Viki Nova, complimented by solid percussion and acoustic guitar. “Drop In” continues the smooth second half of the album as it settles down into a lighter reggae vibe that flows into “Taylor” (with hints of Marley’s “Small Axe” mixed in), enhanced by accompanying vocals again from Viki. “Taylor” is an endearing love song, incorporating the party vibe but also keeping with the maturity.
The SOBs might have recorded the first-ever gospel ska tune entitled, “Unorganized Religion,” in which Shawn sings “Subtlety was never meant for me.” The intro is from Ghostbusters, and we never ever get tired of hearing Bill Murray say: “Dogs and cats living together!” Have a listen and I promise it will make sense. “Sweet Mary” is a good follow-up with its bong hit intro, mellow vibe, and open Jah endorsements. “Wanting for Earning” furthers the path of maturity, understanding, and wisdom as Shawn sings, “Learn as we go, we reap what we sow.” “Make Money” ends on an equally mellow note with “Sure” and the island, sunshine flowing hidden track “Ballad of a Girl,” featuring acoustic guitar chords that bring to mind “The Weight.”
With “Make Money,” Shawn Owen Band proves why they’ve been of the most consistent and exciting bands in the Naptown Music scene for the last several years. The group is prolific and well-detailed in their songwriting and song arrangement and they don’t shy away from having plenty to say. You can hear SOB for yourself live at several upcoming Naptown shows including performances at Pusser’s, Middleton Tavern, and Stan and Joes. “Make Money” is available for purchase now at: http://shawnowenband.bandcamp.com/album/make-money
Shawn Owen - vocals, guitars, ukelele; Zach Ditmars - bass; Ben Bays - percussion; Paul Clagett - drums; Viki Nova - vocals; Tobias Russell - keys; Nick Reider - trumpet; Jim Templin - trombone; Karl Hunter - saxophone; Erin Snedecor - cello; Sue Owen - bodhran; Jordan Sokel - harmonica; Mike Noonan - marimba
Recorded at Sheffield A/V - Baltimore, MD and RMC Sound Solutions - Annapolis, MD
Mixed by Drew Mazurek - Owings Mills, MD
Mastered by Mike Caplan of Lionfox Recording Studios - Washington, DC
Artwork by Aaron Yealdhall of Skribe Studios - Annapolis, MD
Manufactured in USA