Vancouver Sun

On his latest album Rattlesnake Cage, Vancouver-product Steve Dawson, guitarist, singer-songwriter and producer, tells stories of vivid beauty without relying on a single word. Instead, Dawson, who recently relocated to Nashville, simply makes use of his array of guitars (six- and 12-string, National tricone guitar, and a Weissenborn Hawaiian guitar) and his fingers to revisit the land of early Americana. There’s the classic boxcar feel of Blind Thomas at the Crime Scene and the skip and jump of Butterfly Stunt, the ethereal grandeur of the saltwater-splashed Lighthouse Avenue, and the swampy, scratchy slide guitar blues of Chunky, all delivered with finger-pickin’ and finger-lickin’ goodness. No artifice here — Dawson is no wonky singer, but the material on Rattlesnake Cage is captured the way it should be: In all its unfiltered, acoustic glory. Even slight miscues are kept intact, making for a record that sounds as vibrant, essential and in-the-moment as those platters of old. Nods to Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, and classic string bands like the Mississippi Sheiks (whom Dawson revisited in his excellent tribute from a few years back) abound. Yet there is no denying Rattlesnake Cage is a Steve Dawson record, with one foot in modern times, the other dancing with the ghosts of the past.

Year: 
2014