Review: Steve Dawson – Gone, Long Gone

 

Steve Dawson - Gone, Long Gone

Steve Dawson – Gone, Long Gone
Format: CD – Vinyl LP – Digital / Label: Black Hen Records
Release: 2022

Tekst: Fons Delemarre

Er zijn niet zo heel veel zangers die een zeer eigen stemgeluid en manier van zingen hebben. Canadees Steve Dawson, tegenwoordig opererend vanuit Nashville, is er zo een. Gecombineerd met een herkenbare stijl van liedjes schrijven, produceren én opnemen, blijken zijn albums iedere keer weer uiterst herkenbare muzikale prachtstukjes te zijn.

Een man met een eigen signature sound, dus. Dawson is ook een veel doener en een druk baasje. Liedjes schrijven, eigen en andermans albums opnemen en produceren, een eigen label runnen (Black Hen Records). Daarnaast een podcast maken (al meer dan 100 afleveringen ‘Music Makers and Soul Shakers’), onafgebroken zelf én als sideman touren (behalve in tijden van Covid-19).

Bij de ‘credits’ van het album kun je zien hoe Dawson het maken van ‘Gone, Long Gone’ gedurende de pandemie heeft aangepakt. Opnemen, mixen en masteren vond plaats in negen verschillende studio’s en huiskamers, gelokaliseerd in Nashville, Vancouver, Los Angeles, en Toronto.

De meeste nummers schreef Dawson samen met Matt Patershuk, een bluesmuzikant uit Alberta. Zie elders op deze site voor de recensie van zijn muziek. Voor Dawson was het nieuw om met een ‘co-writer’ te werken, maar heen en weer schrijven en ideeën uitwisselen met Patershuk bleek tot zijn verrassing goed te werken. Het leverde voor ‘Gone, Long Gone’ negen nieuwe nummers op. Het tiende nummer is verrassend genoeg een typisch Engels pubrock-achtig nummer van The Faces (Ooh La La), in 1974 geschreven door Ron Wood en Ronnie Lane, voor het gelijknamige tweede album van The Faces.

Dawson neemt veel gitaarwerk voor zijn rekening, maar excelleert vooral in slide-achtige solo’s, zoals op King Benny Had His Shit Together. De blazers die Dawson gebruikt om een vet Nashvillegeluid neer te zetten (openingsnummer Dimes) gaan wat mij betreft ten koste van de zeggingskracht van zijn muziek. Ik zie de muziek liever spaarzaam aangekleed met een orgel, zoals in het prachtige Bad Omen. Dawson’s composities komen beter uit de verf en klinken krachtiger als de uitvoering sober blijft, zoals dat ook het geval is op Dawson’s vorige albums en op de albums van Black Hen labelgenoot Ray Bonneville.

Verrassend prachtig en sfeervol zijn ook de strijkers en de pedal steel op titelnummer Gone, Long Gone. Ook de meerstemmige zang draagt bij aan de weemoedige klank van het nummer. 6 Skeletons In A Car krijgt een verrassend strijkersarrangement, dat doet denken aan After The Rain van Chuck Prophet’s album ‘No Other Love’ uit 2002.

Op het album staan ook twee instrumentale stukken (Kulaniapia Waltz en Cicada Sanctuary)

Dawson is zo genereus geweest veel informatie te geven over de muzikanten die meespelen op het album én over het proces van tot stand komen van het album. Ook geeft hij een korte toelichting bij ieder nummer.

Er is veel moois te beluisteren op ‘Gone, Long Gone’, waarvan de muziek ligt op het snijvlak van Americana en singer-songwriter muziek.

Doe dat dus vooral, dat luisteren!

Website: https://www.stevedawson.ca/

Tracks, bezetting en toelichting door Steve Dawson:

01) Dimes (Dawson/Patershuk)
Steve Dawson – vocal, slide, acoustic and electric guitars
Gary Craig – drums, percussion
Jeremy Holmes – bass
Kevin McKendree – organ
Allison Russell – vocals
Jerry Cook – baritone sax
Dominic Conway – tenor sax
Malcolm Aiken – trumpet
“Just a fun little number about quantity over quality. I just wanted to have a nice laid-back funky feel going over this, and then in the middle, a 70’s cop-show theme song breaks out. Nothing deep or mysterious here, just some fun with a bunch of excellent players.”

02) King Benny Had His Shit Together (Dawson/Patershuk)
Steve Dawson SD – vocal, acoustic and electric guitars
Jay Bellerose – drums, percussion
Jeremy Holmes – upright bass
Kevin McKendree – piano
Fats Kaplin – fiddle
“Over the years, I’ve studied and collected pre-war Hawaiian music quite deeply. There is an
interesting crossover between American jazz and blues and Hawaiian music that happened
in the late 20’s, that yielded some amazing music. King Bennie Nawahi is one of my
favourites of that era – he was an incredible steel guitarist who was also blind, swam the
English channel, played guitar with his feet, and made amazing records. This song has
nothing to do with him musically, really, but I thought it would be fun to fictionalize a
scenario where an older Nawahi was being interviewed about some of his exploits and see
him go from being shy to somewhat braggy within a verse or two. It’s all in fun, but meant
with utmost respect to one of my favourite musicians of all time.”

03) Bad Omen (Dawson/Patershuk)
Steve Dawson SD – vocal, Weissenborn, electric guitars
Jay Bellerose – drums, percussion
Jeremy Holmes – bass
Kevin McKendree – organ
“This came out of a riff I wrote during a soundcheck with Birds of Chicago and stumbled
across it on a voice memo a couple years later. It’s played on my Weissenborn lap steel
guitar – It sounded dark and ominous and it pulls from similar themes of bad luck to Stevie
Wonder’s ”Superstition”. Jay Bellerose plays some amazing drums and percussion and
Kevin McKendree is magic on the organ.”

04) Gone, Long Gone (Dawson/Patershuk)
Steve Dawson SD – vocal, acoustic guitar, pedal steel
Ben Plotnick – violin, viola
Kaitlyn Raitz – cello
“This is a simple folk song, inspired by the music of guitar players like Brownie McGhee and
Big Bill Broonzy, players that I’ve studied in depth. The instrumental sections veer off into
more discordant territory though, which is something I’ve always enjoyed playing around
with. The string intro and song arrangement were done by Ben Plotnick, another fellow
Canadian living in Nashville.”

05) I Just Get Lost (Dawson/Patershuk)
Steve Dawson – vocal, slide, acoustic and electric guitars, National guitar, Mellotron, Farfisa, pump organ
Gary Craig – drums, percussion
Jeremy Holmes – electric, upright bass
Kevin McKendree – organ, Wurlitzer
Allison Russell – vocals
“I wrote this one while on tour opening for the Wood Brothers, and it was the tour I was on
when the pandemic hit. It started as an acoustic song, but the shifts in time were probably
inspired by hearing the Wood Brothers every night. I spent a lot of time getting the sounds
right on the trippy electric guitars that weave through the sections.”

06) Kulaniapia Waltz (Dawson)
Steve Dawson – Weissenborn, electric guitar, National guitar, ukulele
Gary Craig – drums, percussion
Jeremy Holmes – upright bass
Chris Gestrin – pump organ
“I’ve had this weird vision of a variation on the traditional Hawaiian sound going around in
my head for years. For some reason, when I write in this style, I always picture the music
with the steel guitar as the lead, guitar and ukulele on rhythm, soft drums, acoustic bass
and then pump organ. Why pump organ? I have no idea. It was not at all in that style. But
for some reason my version of Hawaiian music includes the pump organ. I’ve recorded
quite a few songs with this lineup over the years, and here’s another one.”

07) 6 Skeletons In A Car (Dawson/Patershuk)
Steve Dawson – vocal, Weissenborn, electric guitars
Jay Bellerose – drums, percussion
Gary Craig – drums, percussion
Jeremy Holmes – upright bass
Chris Gestrin – organ, synthesizer
Allison Russell – vocals
Keri Latimer – vocal
“Another co-write with Matt Patershuk. It’s sort of a true story about driving in the Canadian
prairie night and coming across a car full of teenagers who had been drinking and spun
their car off the road. They were OK, but Matt remarked that they looked like 6 skeletons as
he drove by. I brought in 2 drummers for this song. Jay Bellerose and Gary Craig, just to
bring out some of the underlying chaos beneath what is a fairly simple song.”

08) Ooh La La (Ron Lane, Ron Wood/WC Music Corp.)
Steve Dawson – vocal, acoustic and electric guitars, National slide guitar
Jay Bellerose – drums, percussion
Jeremy Holmes – bass
Kevin McKendree – organ, piano
Casey Dawson – vocals
Allison Russell – vocals
“This is the only cover song on the album, and is by The Faces, one of the great British bands
of the 60’s. I always thought it was cool how Ron Wood and Ron Laine could sing a song on
an album that mostly featured Rod Stewart on vocals, who was a way more dynamic singer,
but somehow their strange little songs and singing would still be the highlight. I talked with
Jay, the drummer, about how I loved songs that felt like real driving rock songs, like
Sympathy For The Devil, that actually didn’t really have “rock” drumming at all. We made
this one drive with some bongos, percussion, and layers of guitars.”

09) Cicada Sanctuary (Dawson)
Steve Dawson – acoustic guitar
“This is a little instrumental I write in guitar out in my back yard late at night in the summer.
Coming from the west coast of Canada, I had never really experienced cicadas full-on like
we have them here in the South. It’s a bit of a racket when they really get going, but
somehow the drone of those little critters spurred me on to play this little piece over their
voices.”

10) Time Has Made A Fool Out Of Me (Dawson/Patershuk)
Steve Dawson – vocal, slide guitar
Gary Craig – drums, percussion
Jeremy Holmes – bass
Chris Gestrin – Mellotron, pump organ
Allison Russell – vocal
“This is just a little ballad I started messing around with and then had my friend Allison
Russell sing it with me. I wanted the band to enter only in the last 8 bars of the song, just as
a crazy texture rather than to drive it. I just liked how my old Silvertone guitar sounded that
day and wanted to keep it very sparse.”

Credits:
Produced by Steve Dawson at The Henhouse Studio in Nashville, TN
Recorded and mixed at The Henhouse by Steve Dawson
Mastered by Andrew Downton at Railtown Mastering in Vancouver
Jeremy Holmes recorded by Sheldon Zaharko in Vancouver
Jay Bellerose recorded by Jennifer Condos in Los Angeles
Gary Craig recorded by Gary Craig and Steve Dawson in Toronto
Chris Gestrin recorded by Chris Gestrin in Vancouver
Fats Kaplin recorded at home in Nashville
Kevin McKendree recorded at The Rockhouse in Nashville
Horns recorded by Sheldon Zaharko at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver
Horns arranged by Jerry Cook
Strings arranged and recorded by Ben Plotnick in Nashville

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