Published Mar 24, 2008For those of you whove tapped into house music via DFA or Ed Banger, get ready to deal with the source. Robert Owens is one of the most influential male vocalists of the last 25 years. Much more than a male diva, his iconic post-disco delivery comes from a gospel phrasing and intensity, but combined with intimacy, vulnerability and dignity. He more than mastered the dialogue between power and emotion in his work with Fingers Inc. in the 80s, and has always broadened his horizons in dance music while retaining his essential appeal as someone who can take a groove to the peak of the night and deep into the early morning. Night-Time Stories, his first album in ten years, finds him paired with both established and up-and-coming producers. The collaborations are never less than satisfying and are frequently inspired. Unlike so much neo-house music, the drum sounds arent murderously aggressive. The sonics are powerful and polished, but the songs themselves are excellent. Even at his corniest I personally dont want to know what he does in his bath youre drawn in. This is an album that will get you moving immediately.
These songs are very well written these arent hastily constructed grooves. Are good, meaningful lyrics and song structures a priority for you?
Definitely. Its important to tell a story, to apply what you think people might be dealing with in their lives. Not just [whats going on with] me but travelling to Third World countries, seeing the vibe between rich and poor. I write about a lot of personal experiences, its important. Its good to put it out there that youre concerned about your fellow man, their livelihood.
After more than 20 years of making music for clubs, what inspires you most?
People. The public is my lifeline, musically. Almost every week I fly in and out of some country, so Im lucky Im constantly meeting people and evolving with the industry. The response you get from a lot of young people, seeing people go through a lot of their emotions through this music, I still sense that when I travel.
Do you think theres a revival of the kind of house music you made famous?
That would be wonderful if thats actually happening! For a long time, its been a minimal-led thing, instrumental heaven happening. But as a vocalist, I want the whole vocal thing to come back! (Compost)