We’ve been fans of Steve Dawson long before he moved from his native Vancouver, BC, to Nashville a few years ago. Always a consummate picker with a wide array of vintage amps and instruments in his arsenal, his songwriting runs the gamut from pre-WWII blues, gospel, folk, and roots. All his myriad of influences are on display on his latest Black Hen release, “Solid States And Loose Ends.” He recorded this set at his Hen House studio down in Brentwood, and brought in some homeboys from Canada as well as some from ’round these parts to make this album themost well-written, well-played, and well-conceived of his career. Along with Steve on all the guitars, he imported John Dymond and Gary Craig from north of the border to add bass and drums, respectively. Add in Kevin McKendree on keys, Fats Kaplin on the fiddle and mandolin, Jim Hoke on saxes, with Keri Latimer and Regina and Ann McCraryon backing vocals, and this is one big blues party!
Leading off is a song about things gettin’ in your way no matter how you try to avoid those “Loose Ends.” Fats is on the fiddle and Steve is on lap steel, giving “On Top Of The World” a swingin’ vintage vibe, while Fats adds mandolin over Steve’s electric slide guitar on the traditional tale of cheatin’ lovers, “Can’t Put That Monkey On My Back!” “Final Words” has elements of both blues and soul, and Steve’s over-the-top playing does give this one a sweet Little Feat feel.
Every cut is a monster, and we’d ;like to mention a couple of Steve’s traditional blues covers. He and Keri Latimer make the sad story of “Delia” into aplaintive country-blues duet while Steve reaches deep down into the Wayback Machine for a killer version of Gid Tanner And The Skillet Lickers’ hilarious “Riley’s Hen House!” This one features some fine fingerpicking that’ll sho’ nuff flat git it!
Steve Dawson is a Juno Award winner (the Canadian Grammy, if you will), and we are lucky to have him living here in Music City. Catch him around town in support of “Solid States And Loose Ends,” and be prepared to be blown away by his incredible talents! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.