Steve Dawson’s Rattlesnake Cage is a gift to the ears, and the soul as well. Stunning in it’s immediacy, and simplicity, this music awakens the spirit. A Canadian recently relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, Dawson offers up a masterful palette of acoustic aural art, and drama. Simplicity is at the heart of the music here; there’s only Dawson, and acoustic guitar(s), all recorded with an ancient tube microphone, rescued from an old Detroit theatre. It’s perfect.
Rattlesnake Cage, released on the Black Hen Music label, contains eleven songs, clocking in at 42 minutes. The sound quality is pristine, and full of warmth. Dawson’s playing is dazzling, and his technical ability is immense. Imagine for a moment standing outside a room and hearing Dan Tyminski, Jerry Douglas, and Ron Block playing. You push through the door, only to find Dawson, alone with his instrument, making all that astonishing music. That’s how brilliant Dawson’s playing is!
Along with the music itself, the beauty of this album lies in it’s flow; like a waterfall, one song flows into the next. Some might call this roots music, others might say it is Americana, and still others might assert that it is country music. Whatever one chooses to call it, every track on here is moving, well played, and satisfying.
We did have our favorites though. The opener, “Blind Thomas At The Crime Scene,” displays immaculate, fluid picking. “The Medicine Show Comes To Avalon” has a light rag feel to it, and just breathes freshness. It is a truly radiant performance. “Rattlesnake Cage” features steel guitar with a warm, full tone, sprinkled with a slide turn here and there. “Butterfly Stunt,” played on a Tricone, is just surreal. Remember too, there are no overdubs on the album.
The beauty, subtlety, and finesse of this music is exquisite. Rattlesnake Cage is highly recommended. Absolutely.