Hearkening back to a much earlier age, the tunes on Steve Dawson’s Rattlesnake Cage are a pure delight. Powerful, passionate and overflowing with pure, raw emotion, this recording shows the relationship between a man and his guitars with nothing getting in the way. I am reminded of John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, John Fahey, Ry Cooder and Mississippi John Hurt to name just a very few. This is music in its most pure form, man and guitar alone, facing an audience. This is the kind of recording you put in the player, sit down with a good stiff drink, and let the music take you where it will. It won’t take long before you find yourself swept away in that music. Dawson weaves tapestries in song, intricate and beautiful, the sort of thing that could play nonstop and not get old. Blues and ragtime pour seemingly effortlessly from the guitar of this virtuoso. Stories are told without the need for words and still each listener hears clearly and understands, each swept away in the music. In the world of guitarists there are those who are considered guitarist’s guitarists. Dawson is one of that those. If you love guitar this is one of those albums you should not let slip through your fingers. I have been listening to guitarists for a good many years and seldom have I heard anything this beautiful. There have been many great guitarists over the years…there have even been labels dedicated to the work of such artists. Steve Dawson may not be one of a kind but he is part of a very small group and does what he does with style and finesse rarely heard on recorded media. Guitarists of this caliber are a rare breed. While recordings of this type are difficult to review, it is indeed an honor to be asked to do so. The listener should realize that what you hear is what you get. There are no overdubs or effects just a man using fingers, slides and guitars. All tunes were written by Dawson throughout the latter half of 2013 between tours and working with other artists. This is a man who, from a musical standpoint, is in a category that few artists ever even hope to attain…singer, songwriter, producer, technician; he has left no stone unturned in pursuit of his true love. So very few can paint a picture so well with music alone that an audience can be held spellbound. Rattlesnake Cage takes its audience on a personal journey of discovery. Blues, ragtime, hints of bluegrass, touches of classical and more blend to weave a tapestry in which, even if just for a short time, the listener can relax and be carried by the current to places whose only restraints are those imposed by the mind of the listener. Dawson is a masterful guitarist to be sure. Rattlesnake Cage belongs in the collection of everyone who considers himself (or herself) a guitarist. Everyone needs something to reach for…why not reach for the stars?