One magazine has referred to Steve Dawson as "the T-Bone Burnett of Canada." I tend to think of him more as a Canadian version of Ry Cooder. And I love Ry Cooder.
Whatever comparisons are made, this might be one of the best albums coming out this year from a singer-songwriter unfamiliar to a lot of Americans.
Dawson has a great voice to go with his fine slide guitar and storytelling, everything seeming to flow effortlessly. In this, his fifth solo recording, Dawson goes with a dark theme, but it's not a downer. It's an introspective look at life, with songs such as "Darkness Still," "Walk On," and "Have That Chance," being almost more of subtle wake-up calls for seizing opportunities and not so much lamenting about being mired in depression.
The album is acoustic and gut bucket blues, flirting with other genres and "Side of the Road (inspired by the life of bluesman Skip James)," includes interplay with some banjos. This is an album with a steady, warm and feel-good groove that keeps bringing you back.
Sophisticated writing and musicianship from a guy who's produced albums for Jim Byrnes, the Sojourners, and others, as well as having had a big hand in the award-winning Mississippi Sheiks Tribute Project album of 2009. – Tom Henry