Multi-instrumentalist Steve Dawson is the man behind Vancouver’s Black Hen Music and four of this year’s Juno-nominated folk musicians. His cohesive fifth solo album showcases his excellent bluesy guitar-playing (acoustic, electric and slide), over which he tells dark stories in an easy, welcoming tone. Dawson’s players – Geoff Hicks, Keith Lowe and Chris Gestrin – recall the Band, Nick Drake and Uncle Tupelo-era alt-country.
With the exception of Gulf Coast Bay, a Mississippi Sheiks cover, the songs are original and contemporary. Jill Barber, Jeanne Tolmie and Alice Dawson take turns singing backup on gems like Darker Still, Nightshade and The Side Of The Road, while pedal steel steals the spotlight on We Still Won The War. The last few songs are less hummable – a small complaint about an enjoyable record.