I would like to start by saying how excited I am to be writing about this guy. I have seen the unbelievably talented Dan Owen a few times, and his stage presence is just mesmerising. At Barn on the Farm this year he stunned crowds with his raw, husky voice, fantastic songwriting skills, and unparalleled modesty. So to have this single handed to me to review is just a total joy.
Dan rose to fame after his cover of a Bob Dylan track was uploaded by an audience member to Reddit and went viral overnight – having just finished a 30 date European tour with Birdy, this release is a fantastic way to land back on solid ground. From seeing him live, a lot of Dan’s set is hand-clapping, foot-stomping, singalong madness, but this is something else entirely, a slower, more intense record that caught me off guard.
Made to Love You is an immensely personal song, written about a friend’s experiences struggling to deal with an abusive relationship. Dan expertly works his way around this delicate subject, managing to capture the internal conflict of dealing with abuse whilst still feeling affection for your abuser. It is heavy stuff, I won’t lie, but the piece itself has an ultimately uplifting feeling about it that is haunting and awe-inspiring.
The single starts small but slowly builds to an emotional crescendo, with a steady piano riff that slowly builds into the chorus to be joined by an acoustic guitar and subtle crowd vocals. The production on Made to Love You is excellent, with a very intimate feel to it. After a few listens you hear the quiet drone of an electric guitar, hidden behind vocals, and a cheeky cello pull that are tastefully utilised to make this worthy of a hundred plays. This could have easily been written as a ballad, with a full orchestra, drums and a choir bellowing the chorus, but instead we are left with a piano, a guitar, and Dan pouring his heart out, which is really moving.
“If I was made to love you, then how can you bring me pain?” – A simple lyric that adequately surmises the gravity of the situation. It is impressive and inspiring to hear someone tackle the subject of abusive relationships so head-on, something that most artists would shy away from. You can hear the emotion in each lyric, the love in every line.
I can’t wait to hear more from Dan Owen, you can check him out on SoundCloud, and his EP Open Hands And Enemies is out on September 14th. He will also be headlining London’s St Pancras Old Church on September 7th as part of the release of Made to Love You, which is guaranteed to be a fantastic night if you can make it.
Words by Morton Piercewright