Owen Temple

City folk might describe their economic plight in terms of shuttered restaurants, dwindling sales numbers and shrinking retirement funds.

But while he has lived in Dallas, Austin and even New York City, Texas songwriter Owen Temple documents the pawned guitars, crumbling factories and rusted towns of the "Broken Heart Land" that gives his album its theme (and the opening song its title). Veterans sell weed to kids and tell dirty jokes. Girls lie about their age to get on the pole and dance to the drugs and music—in that order. A sentimental encounter with a past love in "Quiet Look" and a visit to his old stomping grounds in "Golden Age" throw his current desperation into stark relief, but thanks to simply yet vividly developed real-world characters, the relentless melancholy doesn't get old.

Rather, Dollars and Dimes is comforting in its gloom and nostalgia, and the moody, understated accompaniment from producer Gabriel Rhodes and backing players fits the mood like an old pair of Levi's. "I just can't get paid," Temple sings in "I Don't Want to Do What I Do." City or country, who can' t relate to that sentiment these days?

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