Steve Dawson “Sweet is the Anchor” (Decor, 2005)
“Gorgeous blue-eyed soul from Dolly Varden main man”
Steve Dawson is the singer and writer for Chicago-based Dolly Varden, who not only produced some of the finest music of the last decade, but managed the rare feat of getting better with each of their four albums. Driven by Dawson’s passionate and intensely soulful voice, allied to the dark poetry of his songs, they were and remain a joy both live and on album. The band are currently on an extended break, so Dawson has taken the opportunity to make his first solo record, and it feels like the record that he’s been striving towards all these years. It’s a soul album, a soul singer’s album par excellence, just oozing the stuff from every word, every note, every nuance. Dawson’s sublime vocals are absolutely glorious, whether letting it all hang out on “Love is a Blessing” (a song and performance worthy of Al Green at his finest) or subtlely sexual on the title track. He aches, he howls and he whispers with a grace and passion that cannot be denied. The country-folk- pop of Dolly Varden is still in evidence - wife and DV member Diane Christiansen contributes backing vocals on a couple of tracks – and the songs still have the edge and darkness that characterises his writing, notably on “I’m the one I despise” and the title track, but ultimately it’s the singing that this album is about. It’s music you can lose yourself in, as you luxuriate in the gorgeous vocals and bask in the arrangements. It’s a tired cliché to review an album in January and describe it as an album of the year contender, but nonetheless it’s hard to imagine that there will be a better singer’s album this year.
Date review added: Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Reviewer: Jeremy Searle
Related web link: Steve Dawson website