Dean Owens is a wonderful contradiction. In his shows he’ll often tell the audience he’s never happier than when he’s singing about something miserable before making them laugh out loud with a well observed quip.

It’s the same with his music, tales of life, sometimes life that’s hard but which have a glorious melody or a beautiful phrase.

Lancashire Telegraph: Dean Owens                                                                                                                                                                                                                             (Picture: Gaelle Beri)

It’s easy to see why Dean has been voted UK Artist of the Year for the past three years by readers of Americana UK.

Next month he will be making a rare foray from his native Edinburgh to Lancashire and a date at Barnoldswick Music and Arts Centre. (Note the date has been rescheduled from May 25 to June 19).

“It’s a part of the country I’ve not been to for a long time but I’ m not quite sure why that is,” said Dean. “I’m played everywhere but Lancashire has sort of got away from me.”

It also means Dean has an opportunity to add to his growing number of fans.

“There are two sides to playing to a new audience,” he said. “The first thing you have to do is win them over because it’s likely they don’t really know your songs and I always enjoy that challenge.

“Then if you do win them over they can discover your records and the merch sales do well which is always good for an artist.”

For fans new to Dean’s music there is plenty to discover. He’s hoping to release his 10th solo album later this year following on from last year’s collaboration with Neilson Hubbard and Will Kimbrough, Pictures. He’s also worked with Calexico to produce two highly acclaimed albums.

For his date in Barnoldswick Dean will be backed by his band The Sinners.

Lancashire Telegraph: Dean Owens and the Sinners                                                                                                               (Picture: Marianna Visser)

“It started off as a moveable feast but we’ve pretty much stuck to a four-piece which can be expanded for bigger venues,” he said. “They are all great musicians and its easy for us to travel around the country together.”

With a lengthy back catalogue, live shows always represent something of a challenge when it comes to compiling a setlist.

“The Sinners came about around the time of the Calexico albums -Sinner’s Shrine and The Desert Trilogy - so they form the basis of the set,” he said. “But there are so many songs. People want to hear different things - some like the older stuff. So I just try and keep everybody happy as much as I can. That’s the diplomatic answer anyway.”

Whatever he plays, Dean’s music reveals a natural storyteller although it’s not something that came through at the start of his career.

“Ricky Ross who has played a lot of my music on his Another Country radio show said I’m never better than when I’m telling a story but it took me a long time to come round to realising that,” said Dean.

“Certainly the early albums I did don’t have much storytelling in them. Then I started to realise your own story can be relatable to someone else even though may never have experienced it or had that family connection. I think if the emotions or the feelings are true people relate to it.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Dean Owens (Picture: MCE Photograph)

Growing up in Leith, Dean had some success with his first band Smile in the early 90s.

“We were going away to write some songs and my manager gave me some records to listen to which he thought might inspire me,” said Dean. “He gave me GP and Grievous Angel by Gram Parsons which was a double CD. When I first listened to Gram Parsons I couldn’t believe how beautiful the songs were. That was the starting point for my solo work

“There was also a record store in Edinburgh and the owner was notoriously cantankerous but for some reason he liked me and because I had no money he’d lend me records he thought I should listen to. One of them was Hank Williams which then led me to listen to bluegrass and then you disappear down rabbit holes that you find hard to dig your way out of.

“Also I did a few big trips to America and I fell in love with the South West, particularly the desert, the dust really gets in your blood.”

Easy then to see where the Americana label might come from.

“Oh everybody needs a genre don’t they?” he said in a resigned fashion. “Americana has become a bit of a funny one for me. I liked the term when it first started. I remember being in Nashville when I first heard of the Americana Association and I totally got it. For me no one is more Americana than Johnny Cash.

“But now it feels like people just put a hat on and wear a western shirt and their music is Americana, but I think that’s just me being grumpy.

“Don’t get me wrong being voted artist of the year is something I really appreciate. And I’ve worn a hat most of my life, ask my mum. I had to be taken to the headmistress for stealing someone’s hat when I was about five.

“I just think we have to be careful about attaching labels to things. But Americana is fine when it covers music, literature, movies and the landscape. I’m happy with that tag.

“I do wonder though if anyone ever asks Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney what kind of music they play.

“For me the easiest answer is it’s all rock and roll really - maybe with a bit of twang, although the twang isn’t quite so prominent these days.”

Dean Owens and the Sinners, Barnoldswick Music and Arts Centre, Wednesday, June 19. Details from