Steve Dawson can sing, play guitar and compose (and do all three masterfully). The songs on his seventh and superb “Solid States and Loose Ends” CD (Black Hen Music) are oftentimes dark, fraught with the kind of literary imagery you might find in a Raymond Chandler novel. In his native Vancouver, Canada, he’s known as a Ry Cooder mad-scientist type of musician. Since he’s moved to Nashville, he’s become an excavator of the long-ago and far-away. Despite this being a full-band release (as opposed to his stark and lonely “Rattlesnake Cage” in 2014), he covers “Riley’s Henhouse Door” accompanying himself on acoustic slide. The song is a prized gem of a nugget from the 1920s by Gid Tanner & the Skillet Lickers.
Four years in the making, complete with A-List Nashville players on whatever each track calls for including drums, keyboards, violoa, fiddle, mandolin, accordion, sax, trumpet, acoustic and electric bass and backing vocals by the sublime McCrary Sisters, you might say this one is his career album. It traverses roots-rock, blues, folk, country, gospel and soul. He plays acoustic, electric, slide and pedal steel. “On Top Of The World” is Western Swing. He even covers “You Got What It Takes” by Joe Tex.
This one’s a stone cold beauty of a keeper.