The Globe and Mail
Our national mythology has it that Canadians are nice people who would never dream of pushing themselves on the world, American-style. By that standard, Steve Dawson and Jesse Zubot may be the most Canadian musicians alive. Their elegant, good-humoured roots music is often quite complex, and so well-played that you almost don't notice the virtuosity with which these Vancouver musicians get around a closetful of guitars (Dawson), mandolins and violins (Zubot).
The music is generally playful and light, with a texture to match. Zubot's violin sound offers a sweet complement to Dawson's transparent guitar, and there's a wide meeting ground available when Dawson works his silky slide technique. Some of the off-kilter tunes and percolating jams carry a whiff of Oliver Schroer in his Stewed Tomatoes mode, but the final flavour is uniquely theirs.
The single best track is "Boomer's Hill Road", a finely grained meditation on a couple of riffs and a handful of chords that deftly poses Brad Turner's muted trumpet against parts for slide guitar and percussion that are spiced with East Indian inflections. Kelly Joe Phelps lends his speedy guitar and crushed velvet vocals to two songs, including Robert Johnson's "Hellhounds On My Trail".
- Robert Everett-Green