In his solo recordings, roots music renaissance man Steve Dawson has been alternating instrumental and vocal albums of late. 2014's Rattlesnake Cage was all-instrumental, while Solid States and Loose Ends brings Dawson's voice back to the mix. He doesn't have the widest range or resonance vocally, but it is a laidback and likeable instrument he employs skilfully.
For instance, on opening track "Loose Ends" he lets backing singers the McRary Sisters and a horn section add soul and muscle to proceedings, a nice contrast to his mellow delivery. Horns embellish four of the generous 14 cuts, though the sparser-sounding material works equally well, as with the voice and acoustic slide only approach of traditional tune "Riley's Henhouse Door."
Keri Latimer (Nathan) is used as harmony vocalist on six songs here, while Dawson's stellar supporting cast include the rhythm section of John Dymond and Gary Craig (Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Colin Linden), and multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin. The core focus here remains the stringed wizardry of Dawson, showcased here on steel, electric, acoustic, weissenborn, dobro and mandotar (plus assorted keyboards), and that never disappoints. A warm and mellow collection, this will go down a treat at upcoming patio parties.