Saskatoon Star Phoenix
For this album of stunning acoustic guitar music, Steve Dawson took an old Neumann M49 microphone that had been hanging from the rafters of a Detroit church for 50 years, sat down in front of it, and played. No overdubs. No effects. Just him on one of the four guitars he uses. And does he use them.
Dawson goes for a fast finger-picking display on opener Blind Thomas at the Crime Scene, then hits a vigorous slide for Flophouse Oratory (the titles here are great fun).
The Medicine Show Comes to Avalon has a gentle melody, while there's an intricate finger-picking pattern on the title track, with a strong drone carrying it along.
Butterfly Stunt is upbeat bluegrass guitar, with slide, while Lighthouse Avenue is much more drawn, even pensive, and closer The Altar at Center Raven is country bluegrass, a big warm, 12-string sound. Like all great acoustic guitarists - Leo Kottke, John Fahey, Bruce Cockburn come to mind - Dawson has a distinct and memorable presence on these self-penned tunes.