Utne Reader is proud to premiere the song "One In A Million" by Welsh singer-songwriter Judith Owen. On her latest album Ebb and Flow, Owens celebrates the 1970s troubadour sound with a backing band comprised of players that were on the landmark albums from the era including those by Carole King, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne.
Owen is married to actor and humorist Harry Shearer, and in addition to her solo work, she has for many years been Richard Thompson’s female foil of choice. Both have appeared on each other's albums and Owen played a leading collaborative part in Thompson's projects 1000 Years Of Popular Music and Cabaret of Souls.
What is the story behind "One In A Million"? What was the writing process behind this song?
It's a "Grass is Always Greener" song, based upon a conversation I once had with a friend whose disappointments and self-loathing barred her from seeing her own remarkable strengths and achievements. Hearing her talk not only made me outraged on her behalf, but allowed me to see how similarly I'd viewed myself and my own life to date.
Simply put, it's a plea for us all not to judge ourselves by how others seem to be doing, but on who we are as individuals. Like many of my songs it's about finding compassion through the shared experience. It's an uplifting and cathartic message and musically, that's the anthemic feeling I wanted when writing it.
How did you come to work with your backing band of Lee Sklar, Waddy Wachtel, and Russ Kunkel?
I spent some of my happiest family road trips singing along to the likes of James Taylor and Carole King, and when my dad passed recently, I decided to make one of my childhood fantasies a reality and finally work with those players. So I put my brave hat on, picked up the phone, asked them, and thankfully they said yes! It's been the most "hand in glove" experience of my career to date, a dream come true all the way from London to Laurel Canyon!
How would you describe the sound of 'Ebb & Flow'?
It's my love letter to the 1970's Troubadours. Equal parts James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell & early Elton John … the musicians I grew up listening to and who most influenced my style of singer-songwriting. Storytelling and beautiful melodies, a long drive home, or red wine by the fire—that's the mood!
After this album, what's next for you?
Touring and more touring—it's what I love the most. I have to say that the prospect of finally performing this album live with Lee, Waddy, and Russ, has me truly excited. I know once we hit the road the songs will just get richer and deeper. I've waited a long time to work with these legendary players, so I plan to indulge in their brilliance. Of course, I'll cry when it's all over (being a complete drama queen). After that, I'll have a quick lie down before gearing up for the next one!