Canada's Steve Dawson earns his crust as an award winning producer and sideman but also maintains a steady solo career. This is his 8th album, and his first record of instrumental music since "Rattlesnake Cage" in 2014. It comprises ten solo or duo guitar pieces with string quartet accompaniment. Dawson drew inspiration from Van Dyke Parks' string arrangements and the Americana guitar playing style explored on early recordings with Ry Cooder and Phil Ochs.
The orchestration comes courtesy of musical partner, Jesse Zubot, who he has worked with for two decades. In the past, Dawson and Zubot composed together but for these latest songs the pair worked in isolation, with the strings built around the melodies suggested by the six and twelve string guitar in Dawson's compositions.
Each of the songs is named after places Dawson has encountered around his adopted Nashville hometown and the tracks were recorded live at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, with up to twelve microphones set up in various positions.
The combination of modern and older 'primitive' styles is noted by Joe Henry who says "it conjures the ghost of John Fahey for me - not in imitation, but by way of joining a tradition and then extending its range."
Bruce Cockburn is another admirer and, on the whole, this is a record more likely to be lauded by Dawson's peers than reaching a wider audience but it's well worth seeking out for the precision of the high quality musicianship.