Vancouver served him well — he’s a two-time Juno Award and three-time Canadian Folk Music Award winner with a reputation for some pretty skilled slide and fingerstyle guitar work as well as a sought-after producer — but after spending most of his life in western Canada, it was time for a change.
After considering Toronto (not enough of a change) and a few other places, he settled on Nashville, moving three there years ago and setting up a studio. With some Canadian guys he knew before and some Nashville musicians he had recently met, Dawson recorded “Solid States and Loose Ends,” his first full-band album since 2011.
“I had a bunch of songs kicking around but because I had been producing other people’s projects, I hadn’t had any time to record them,” said Dawson, who has produced albums for the likes of Old Man Luedecke, The Sojourners and the Deep Dark Woods, among others. He has produced or performed on more than 80 albums since the new millennium.
“I just wanted to have an album of new, fresh songs put together as a band and stretch out a bit that way.”
In contrast to his solo acoustic album “Rattlesnake Cage” from a couple years ago, “Solid States and Loose Ends” is a collection of original Dawson tunes and three country blues classics: Riley Puckett’s “Monkey on my Back,” Joe Tex’s “You Got What it Takes,” and Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers’ “The Henhouse Door.”
“I love pulling out these songs from the ’20s and ’30s and figuring out ways to play them. These are my reinterpretation of those songs,” he said.
Acoustic, electric, slide, pedal steel, vintage, edgy — Dawson’s versatility as a guitar player is on display more than ever on the new recording.
“I didn’t want to do a huge guitar album, but I am very interested in texture, tone and sound,” he explained. “A lot of time and thought went into the way things sound on this one and I’ve been playing more electric guitar than I ever have. There’s a gutiar frenzy on there.”