Steve Dawson

Steve Dawson
Rattlesnake Cage

Black Hen Music 0072

By Georgetown Fats
April 2014

With their NICKELBACK insistence that curling is a sport, and their exportation of Justin Bieber infliction, I have long since trained an untrusting eye to Canada. However, if Canada would like to share more musicians such as two-time Juno Award-winning artist Steve Dawson with us in the U.S., it might just help my self-imposed polar vortex.

Yes, Steve Dawson is just that good to make me both forgive the NICKELBACK and the Bieber infestation. Rattlesnake Cage offers a master class in guitar instrumentals. One man, one guitar track, one amplifier, and one suspended Neumann M49 microphone produce this 11 track masterpiece.

Dawson sets the stage on Rattlesnake Cage with “Blind Thomas at the Crime Scene”. Bouncing giddily over the line between country and blues, porch guitar picking jam with ten highly skilled fingers and quite possibly no overdubs, Dawson creates an impressive instrumental capable of getting boots stomping from Yellowknife or Moose Jaw all the way to Tusket Nova Scotia.

On “Flophouse Oratory” Dawson’s slide guitar takes on a distinctively sitar-like sound. How the hell he manages to produce it, I don’t have a clue but it is a welcome addition to the track. Dawson’s work on the acoustic guitar is impressive as the tone and timing is clean and precise without ever feeling rigid. There is a very fluid nature to Dawson’s guitar work that can only be found in a musician with the gift of natural talent while still possessing the drive to constantly work and hone their craft.

Dawson picks and slides his way up and down a guitar with metal strings on “J.R. Lockley’s Dilemna.” After about an eight bar free time interlude, Dawson once again massages an ungodly amount of tone from just six strings and some wood. It is impressive with the complexity of the guitar track, but again enjoyable due to how effortless the master coaxes the tones and notes from his guitar.

Due to the nature of this position with the Boston Blues Society, I am in a constant state of dumping MP3s off various devices in order to maintain space for new material to critique and review. I assure the reader that Steve Dawson’s Rattlesnake Cage won’t be hitting my recycling bins anytime soon.

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