Wade Bowen stands on the brink of bigger things. After a dozen years solo, the Texas singer/songwriter is among the latest Red Dirt artists to be snatched up by the majors. He’s already doing a radio tour in advance of the first single, “Saturday Night,” from his still-untitled forthcoming Sony debut, due early 2012.
In making the transition from the regional to the national stage, he’s bringing his “A” game.
“I’ve never written as many songs for an album as I did for this new one,” said Bowen, who plays Friday at the Wormy Dog Saloon. “But to me, this record is real Wade Bowen through and through. It’s just got a lot more energy and dynamics to it. It feels like a band recorded this live, which is pretty much what we did.”
He collected 80 potential tracks for the new album, just “looking to best represent yourself to the rest of the country,” Bowen said. “And here we are: I’m traveling around the country trying to beg people to play our songs.”I just chose to find positive energy.
With so many songs to choose from, he focused less on a style or theme than a feeling.
“I could’ve chosen to make a more Americana thing. I could’ve chosen to make a more songwriter thing. I just chose to find positive energy, because that’s where I am in my life right now,” he said.
It hasn’t always been that way, as one might gather from the title of his last album, 2008’s “If We Ever Make It Home,” a darker record with a thread of dislocation and doubt. With the new LP, Bowen has moved more toward story songs with an anthemic, workingman’s feel.
It’s a big leap, but he never got into the game for anything but the doing. Whether he lands on solid ground or falls on his ass, one gets the impression he’ll know how to take it.
“It’s always a battle, always a struggle to try and figure out how to write the best and how to get the best sound, but that’s the best part about songwriting,” he said. “It’s a journey, not a goal.”
Photo by Evan Kaufmann