Steve Dawson

Nightshade

by David Maine

17 August 2011

 

Virtuoso guitar picking is undermined by weak vocals

cover art

Steve Dawson

Nightshade

(Black Hen / Fontana North)
US: 29 Mar 2011
UK: 28 Mar 2011

Steve Dawson’s brand of guitar-centric blues-pop is supported by capable musicianship, especially in regard to Dawson’s nimble fretwork and the fluid keyboards of Chris Gestrin. Dawson’s voice, however, fails to match the virtuosity of the other elements. Tending toward blandness, the vocals have the effect of sucking the life out of whatever song you’re listening to. It’s a shame, because tunes like “Torn and Frayed” and “Gulf Coast Bay” have real verve to them, and with a stronger singer at the helm, they could have been memorable indeed.

Dawson’s voice is better suited to moody numbers like “Darker Still”, in which his lack of range and power are less significant, and backing vocals are used to reinforce the anemic singing. There are good songs here, like “Nightshade”, with its dexterous guitar work, and the banjo-inflected “The Side of the Road”. However, despite the lively and varied sonic menu, the listener can’t help wishing for a vocalist whose dexterity matches that of the instrumentalists.

Nightshade

Rating:

Topics: steve dawson
//related
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work. We are a wholly independent, women-owned, small company. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing, challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. PopMatters needs your help to keep publishing. Thank you.


//comments
//Mixed media
//Blogs

How a Song By Unknown Newcomer Adam Johnston Ended Up on Blondie's New Album

// Sound Affects

"Adam Johnston of An Unkindness wrote a song at 17 years old and posted it online. Two years later, magic happened.

READ the article