Waiting For The Lights To Come Up (2008)
Acclaimed Vancouver, BC musician/producer/songwriter Steve Dawson will release 2 new albums of his work in 2008; “Waiting For The Lights To Come Up” and “Telescope”.
“I decided to record two albums at once this year. It wasn’t what I set out to do originally. I was getting ready to make a record that would feature a new batch of songs that I had been writing, but at the same time, I was learning the pedal steel guitar, and had been writing ensemble-based music that would feature that instrument.”
Rather than waiting and recording them separately, Dawson decided to put together a crack band and spend a few days in the studio getting the majority of both albums done at once. The idea was to create two completely different projects that tied together sonically and that shared a similar energy. “I thought it would be interesting to have them both done in the same space at the same time, and by the same people.”
The musicians are players with whom he’s been making a lot of records over the last few years. The band comprises Keith Lowe (Bill Frisell, Fiona Apple) on bass, Chris Gestrin (Randy Bachman, K-OS) on keyboards, and Scott Amendola (T.J. Kirk, Bill Frisell, Madeline Peyroux) on drums.
“With musicians of this caliber, I knew that most of the magic would be happening quickly on early takes, even before the band was too comfortable with the new material.” Dawson and the band set up shop in The Factory Studios in Vancouver and proceeded to record the bulk of the two records in about 5 days. Dawson took the tracks back to his Henhouse Studio to add overdubs, textures and sound manipulation. The result is a wonderful and arresting pair of new releases — “Waiting For the Lights To Come Up” and “Telescope”.
Waiting For the Lights To Come Up
“This album was a natural progression for me. I toured quite a bit when my last album, ‘We Belong to the Gold Coast’ came out in 2005. I did a lot of solo shows in Canada and Europe, and in that time I started writing new songs that I could perform on my own as well as with the band”. While Steve’s hypnotic fingerstyle guitar is still at the heart of the new material, it’s the songs that are most prevalent on this recording. Drawing from his wealth of experience with blues, jazz, rock, old-school gospel and folk music of all kinds, Dawson creates a unique blend of sophisticated roots music as only he could. Polished, but leaving the edges a little rough. Contemporary, yet utilizing sounds and instruments that could have been recorded 60 years ago. The evocative lyrics and textural guitars paint an unforgettable picture in songs like “Room To Room” and “Dry As Our Luck”, the twang of the baritone guitar underlies the foreboding of “At Arms Length”, and Steve picked up his old $50 Silvertone guitar for the searing slide that takes us on a chaotic trip in “Fire Somewhere”.
Dawson continues to explore the traditional side as well, always with a contemporary flair, or something to pull it slightly off in a new direction. He dusts off the Mississippi Sheiks’ “Somebody’s Got To Help You” and burns it down with the band in tow. “Hard To Get Gertie” and “Swinging In A Hammock” offer a take on vintage Hawaiian music, although the addition of drums, pump organ, and several electric guitars skew the context just enough. Dawson is channeling his many influences here, but he has found a unique voice within it all that has truly begun to surface.
The bulk of the new songs were written in a small period of time in between Steve’s touring and recording projects. Dawson’s production work has become sought-after for his multi-instrumental abilities and intricacies, while keeping live performance at the root of most of his projects. Jim Byrnes, Kelly Joe Phelps, Jenny Whiteley, Old Man Luedecke, Ndidi Onukwulu, and Shuyler Jansen are just a few of the many artists who have sought out Dawson in the last few years to produce, record and develop their music, and his instrumental abilities have appeared on over 75 albums and onstage with renowned artists like Long John Baldry, Bob Brozman, Geoff Muldaur, Oh Susanna, Justin Rutledge, and many others. Dawson has been named Producer of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards and twice at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. He has produced 7 Juno nominated albums, and has 4 Juno Awards for albums that he has produced or in which he has been a featured musician. Dawson’s unique production style, paired with his desire to create and experiment with sound has brought him to the forefront of the field.
With this wealth of experience, Dawson has taken his recording experience to new heights with “Waiting For The Lights To Come Up”. Slide guitars, pump organs, pedal steel, wurlitzers, and baritone guitars all dance and sway through Dawson’s strongest material to date.