Steve Dawson – ‘Let Him Go Mama’
Roots music Renaissance man Steve Dawson isn’t a fan of idle time, so when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down touring and put a temporary damper on his career as a record producer, Steve used the time to write and record three albums.
He also launched a remote record production company, but that’s another story for another day.
Because on March 24, Steve is releasing the third and final album in that pandemic trilogy.
It’s called Eyes Closed, Dreaming, and we’re thrilled to premiere this here video for “Let Him Go Mama,” here on Roots Music Canada today.
I haven’t heard the rest of the album yet, but Steve’s publicist, Sarah French, says it’s a career high for him. And sure, publicists are paid to say nice things about their artists, but I used to be one too, so I know that you don’t go around tossing around descriptors that others would be unlikely to agree with. Losing your credibility will cost you way more than losing a client.
This latest album was made under lockdown conditions with artists contributing their parts from various corners of Nashville, Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver.
That’s tough on Steve, who relishes live-off-the-floor production.
But he ended up with a pretty great collection of collaborators on account of who just happened to be kicking around their homes during the lockdowns: Grammy nominee and fellow Canadian Allison Russell; Nashville legends Fats Kaplin and Tim O’Brien; legendary LA drummer Jay Bellerose; and Steve’s rock-solid house band of Gary Craig (drums), Jeremy Holmes (bass) and Chris Gestrin and Kevin McKendree (keyboards).
The sound is rounded out with adventurous string arrangements from Ben Plotnik (viola/violin) and Kaitlyn Raitz (cello) as well as a Stax-inspired horn section recorded mid-pandemic in Vancouver with Jerry Cook, Dominic Conway and Malcolm Aiken.
Juno-winning singer-songwriter Keri Latimer of Nathan and Leaf Rapids and Steve’s daughter Casey Dawson also provided some backing vocals.
The centre piece of Eyes Closed, Dreaming is a collection of four original songs – ‘The Owl’, ‘A Gift’, ‘Hemingway’ and ‘Polaroid’ – written with Steve’s old friend and Black Hen label-mate, Matt Patershuk.
The album also features a tasteful assortment of song interpretations, including “House Carpenter,” which sees Steve breathing new life into this old ancient ballad in a version that picks up where Bert Jansch and Pentangle left off.