Mellow, Groovy and Kicks Jack Johnson Ass. It may not be what BC’s Steve Dawson is trying to do, but if you’re after mellow, acoustic, laid back and bluesy, he lays it down with charisma and personality, and he effectively puts the ludicrous Hawaiian back into 88th place where belongs (For regular readers, this Steve Dawson is not the one who’s an Idaho native, went to Berklee College of Music in Boston and now lives in Chicago- this one is definitively from the Canadian west coast; see reviews passim for mentions of the Idaho lad). Dawson’s great strength is his ability to inflect urgency and emotion into picking that’s superficially just nice to hear- he has enough of the old time feel for when a guitar, banjo or (if you were lucky) an autoharp was the main source of entertainment, and his retains a stain of the hard working life throughout his songs. He’s unlikely to be called “the new Bob Dylan” as the Mail on Sunday has been referring to Johnson, but then it’s unlikely that any of our readers take any notice of the nonsense that comes out of Derry Street. “Gold Coast” can be recommended to anyone who digs country blues, but likes a little of Cali or ‘Strine surf layered on the top; Dawson also isn’t afraid to use electronic noises, beats and samples, but they never dominate, merely adding to an environment which is defined by more organic sounds- from pedal steel and Hawaiian guitars to viola, cello and ukulele. It’s a warm, inviting mix and the likes of “Ruby” and “An Orange Grove in Calfornia” are real standouts- the former starting off briefly like a Portishead track before veering off into a dark, introspective and mildly claustrophobic world- never quite cutting it’s ties with the paranoiac Bristol sound. The string arrangements by cohort Jesse Zubot enhance the sense of darkness. “Orange Grove”, meanwhile, is completely the reverse- sunny, cheery and somewhere between Western Swing and straight 20’s flapper jazz; it’s a joy to behold, and occasionally nods in the direction of a ragtime sound, making your hips sway ever so slightly. Overall, “Gold Coast” is a real pleasure and one which you should acquaint yourself with at the first opportunity.