Steve Owen likes to listen. " an Atheist in Nashville," his newest release and Ethic Recordings debut, is a collection of songs and stories from a guy that observes and never judges; a songwriter at the top of his game. And the game is listening in: an overheard conversation at a diner or at the scene of a house fire; a random encounter with a former alcoholic clown turned priest or a fellow flatlander stranded in California.

Steve annihilates convention with every phrase of his stories. Sometimes funny, occasionally serious, usually a little strange, " an Atheist in Nashville" is a concept album about noticing things, a record that sees Steve move beyond his drinking-driving-and-death m.o. (although you can be sure those topics show up...) and presents a great observer, a chronicler of the strange and obscure details that make up ordinary life.

In one of his songs, Steve recalls being told by a now dead (surprise, surprise) local lunatic that "crazy ain't the worst thing you can be". And of course, Steve listens. And thinks about it for awhile. And when he turns around and tells you the story, he brings to bear a wit and a way with words that recall Tom T. Hall or Bob Dylan, without really sounding like either.

Produced by Steve and Patrick Conway and recorded on some pretty old gear in San Francisco's Hyde Street Studios, " an Atheist in Nashville" is performed by a host of good musicians and friends who dig what Steve does, or else had nothing else to do...

Steve Owen is an original American storyteller with a voice like a smooth stone, and " an Atheist in Nashville" (with all the outsider charm that the name implies) is his best record yet.

As Chicago's New City newspaper put it, "Steve Owen is cool". Agreed.

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