In This Town You’re Owned
If it’s possible for an Englishman to be an Americana artist, then singer-songwriter Robert Vincent would be the first in line. Vincent continues to put his distinctive stamp on the genre as evidenced by the reception and acclaim received at this past year’s AmericanaFest. He is already being hailed as a working class hero for the 21st century, not shy about expressing opinions and taking stands in his songs. In This Town You’re Owned is his third album and one sure to attract plenty of notice. It’s produced by one of England’s best, Ethan Johns (Paul McCartney, Kings of Leon, others). Vincent is one of leading country artists in the U.K. and has received considerable media exposure.
Vincent was raised and still resides in Liverpool, a city famed for its culture of storytelling and language. Vincent though, as much as anything, was shaped by his father’s American records, be it Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, or others. The combination is very much at play. From the opening title track, it’s clear that Vincent has important words to convey. He says this about Liverpool, “It’s one of those cities that encourages you to spek up and that if you don’t like something, you point it out.” The track could be about Liverpool or almost any town. Vincent calls it the micro and the macro, saying, “I couldn’t help but write about those things that have been going on over the last two or three years. Whether it’s this country or America, whether it’s Trump or Brexit, everyone’s no in a furor, so it’s all about that.”
Faith and lack of faith is one of the central themes of the record and one of the most memorable tracks is “Kids Don’t Dig God Anymore.” It’s not directly about God but Vincent’s way of saying that organized religion is dying. Think about it. Church used to be as much about community as worship. In these today’s when we’re more connected (at least in a social media way), the need for that kind of community just doesn’t seem as strong. Vincent goes further in his explanation though, saying we lack spirituality compared to previous times, which is also likely true. “The Ending” is another standout (three in the first four tracks). It’s a soulful, hopeful track with the chorus “love has a way of mending/nobody knows the ending.”