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
 

We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.

 


//comments
//related
//Mixed media
//Blogs

20 Questions: Nashville Singer-Songwriter Natalie Hemby

// Sound Affects

"Natalie Hemby's Puxico is a standout debut from a songwriter who has been behind the scenes for over a decade.

READ the article