Exclaim! - Telescope
Is there a harder-working musician in Canada than Steve Dawson? This multi-tasking renaissance man runs an independent record label (Black Hen), is an in-demand, award-winning producer (Kelly Joe Phelps, Jenny Whiteley) and session musician, and a prolific artist in his own right. Telescope is the second album he’s released this year (Waiting For The Lights To Come Up was the other) and it’s a lovely effort. The heart of the all-instrumental record is Dawson’s fluent pedal steel playing. He’s a recent convert to the instrument, and studies with ace Greg Leisz (k.d. lang, Loudon Wainwright III) clearly have paid off. Lovers of the distinctive, hauntingly sweet yet sad tone of the instrument will find lots to enjoy. Dawson cites the likes of Brian Eno and Bill Frisell as influences on the atmospheric sound of Telescope, while the recent work of Daniel Lanois on the instrument and the sound of Martin, Medeski and Wood would be other valid reference points. Dawson’s compositions merge elements of jazz and roots music, and a superb supporting cast does them justice. The trumpet work of Brad Turner and J.P. Carter meshes with the steel in interesting ways (as on “Keith Lowe” and “1,000 Year Old Egg”), and the core band of bassist Keith Lowe, drummer Scott Amendola and keyboardist Chris Gestrin are similarly effective. Dawson also plays an arsenal of guitars, keyboards, ukulele and banjo, and the production displays his characteristic clarity.
By Kerry Doole