Alright, goddammit, it's finally Summer—although, here in SoCal, we had a lot of Summer during Winter (oh! wait! wait! Rush Limburger's telling me there's no such thing as global warming, so I musta been hallucinating)—and it's hot hot hot in many places around the country, so I'm guessing you could do with some cool breezes and gentle wafting airs, yes? Good, because that's exactly what you get from guitarist Lindsey Blair and crew. A New Dawn is a truly refreshing disc of lighthearted but exceedingly well played compositions injecting a lot of sunshine into our presently dark times. In that, A New Dawn is a form of tonic, medicine, even, dare I say it?, soma for populations badly in need of it.
Save for two cuts, Dawn is written by the six-stringer, a gent who evinces a rather wide variety of well incorporated styles as his cavalcade of tunes wends its way through the air and into your ears. A New Dawn is Bensonesque while Dayspring incorporates an unexpectedly intense progressive tail section (swingin' as hell, though, something Shadowfax mighta come up with). Angel on my Shoulder reconciles the too often syrupy New Age ethos with almost Elizabethan sensibilities, a measured pensée on pastorality, a Greensleeves for modern times, keyboardist Clay Ostwald providing a perfectly copacetic counterpoint to Blair's slow, ringing, highly lyrical notes.
I'm telling you now that the ensemble covers Lennon & McCartney's Julia 'cause, unless I do, you might not recognize it at all…but…once informed, you'll gasp and utter a delighted "Wow! Man, look what they did to that!". The same occurs with House of the Rising Sun in a funky, samba-esqued, Jimmy Smith era rendition. If my references to the rest of the repertoire hadn't informed you that Blair's a thinking man, these two cuts will knock you off your feet and engender a new appreciation of what's occurring all through the album. In many ways, I'd place Dawn in with the more unknown but ever delightful guitarists like Blonker, Karl Ratzer, and Walt Barr while hoping to hell that he doesn't suffer the same damn anonymity that those gents endured. In modern music, what with the explosion of bands, venues, and commodities, that's an old problem exacerbated by curiously ambivalent milieus.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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