With a title like ‘Gone, Long Gone’ I was expecting songs from the road, bluesy tunes of the weary traveller, whiskey-soaked tales of love, loss and redemption, finding answers at the bottom of beer glasses, but although there are hints of blues here and there, overall, this album from Vancouver native Steve Dawson is optimistic, upbeat and, dare I say it, as comfy as a hammock.
This is roots music to relax to. Kick back on the porch with a drink and let the music wash over you, it sits nicely in a place that is not light enough to be considered pop but also not dark enough to be the gruff-voiced blues, it’s well written, well produced and will suit a wide audience who want their music to be about more than dirty women or bad choices.
There are some belting tunes on this album, title track ‘Gone, Long Gone’ is a song set to the road, played above some intricate guitar picking, telling the story of the truckers and the trucks passing through the country in the dead of night. It evokes the images of the wide landscape, the small towns and the people who live there, all cleverly observed by a strong song writer.
‘Bad Omen’ is a deep south slide guitar tune that is as catchy as hell and although a simple song, stands out as one of the best on the album. The album carries on with the catchy tune with ‘I Just Get Lost’ that seems to pull the carpet from beneath your feet with a change at the chorus that initially feels strange but which on repeat listening seems totally normal. There is a lovely reflective instrumental with ‘Kulaniapia Waltz and a cover of The Faces classic ‘Ooh La La’, whether this fits or not comes down to how much you like the original. I think I’ve heard too many people sing this song at open mic nights and encores over the years to really appreciate it but at least Dawson has tried something different here in attempting a more soulful, slowed-down version.
If there was one gripe on my part, it would be that some of the songs would benefit from a few more BMP’s, I found the tempo of the songs a little laboured, particularly on the superbly titled ‘King Bennie Had His Sh*t Together’ and ‘6 Skeletons In A Car’. Obviously, these songs might rattle along when played live when the adrenalin and atmosphere of an audience gets going, but here they teeter on being ‘nice’.
Overall though, it’s a good solid album.