Kevin Bowe and the Okemah Prophets
Restoration (Pop Sense Records)
By: Alex Steininger
Minnesota's Kevin Bowe has seen success, writing several songs that have found their way onto gold and platinum albums for artists like Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. But, it is with his own band, the Okemah Prophets, which Kevin Bowe's songs truly shine. Their debut, Restoration is an Americana roots rock album that pays homage to roots rock greats as well as the champions of wild rock 'n' roll, Minnesota legends The Replacements. Suffice to say, this album is rootsy and very heartfelt, but it isn't afraid to show it's rock 'n' roll heritage, either.
"Sault Ste. Marie" is a gusty, warm roots number lead by Kevin Bowe's strong songwriting and lyrics as well as his honest, down home, backwoods voice. The blue-collar ethics and hard working nature of the songs shine with Bowe's voice, struggling, but living happily and seeing life as a beautiful thing.
"Sweeter World" once again finds Bowe's voice leading us through blue-collar stories of life and strong willed rhythms. The guitars serve up a rootsy feel, but still manage to find room to dazzle with some tasty pop hooks, while the rhythm section delivers with tough-as-nails beats and breezy, soft grooves that won't be missed on you.
"Sadly Mistaken" is another gusty roots rocker, "The Heart of Everything" is a more straight forward rocker, "Jefferson Davis Parish" shows the band's country leanings, and "Living Proof" finds the band blasting through some roots-punk wickedness that proves they're a versatile rock band that can tenderize their audience and make them feel safe and secure before snapping them back into a wild, frenetic dance.
Kevin Bowe proves to be a very strong and versatile songwriter here. And his backing back, the Okemah Prophets, show they can follow his every step and give the songs some flair, keeping the audience on the edge of their chairs while they sit their in curiosity wondering what is going to happen next. Here is a roots rock album that has ballsy and stamina, gust and an appetite, and isn't afraid to have fun, either. I'll give it an A.