Acoustic Guitar Magazine

Steve Dawson’s guitar squawks the opening of his fifth solo release with an urgency that is sustained throughout the album. The Canadian string virtuoso and two-time Juno award winner is both performer and producer here. Dawson uses the acoustic more as condiment than entrée in this guitar feast, a sweet or savory complement to the hard-edged electric, National, slide, Weissenborn, and pedal steel. Yet despite the intensity, Dawson’s vocals and music are astonishingly relaxed; his songs casually flow off the guitar bearing the mark of the blues, country, and rock, assimilating with ease disparate influences that include Jimi Hendrix, Ry Cooder, and Duane Allman. Dawson amps up the Mississippi Sheiks on the only cover, “Gulf Coast Bay,” with magnificent slide work, while Skip James is inspiration for “The Side of the Road.” If the melodies on the 11 originals seem slightly less compelling, and his lyrics a little dark, this is more than offset by the rollicking grooves of his sinewy band—Geoff Hicks on drums, Keith Lowe on bass, and especially Chris Gestrin on keyboards. The album’s final song, “The Time It Takes,” resolves into a triumphant riff on acoustic that repeats over and over, like a cheery send-off hinting at a very bright future.

Year: 
2011