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Richard Dawson iTunes Tracks

Richard Dawson


Not the English-born Americanised thespian/TV host, but a prolific fingerpicking-folk-metal artist with a penchant for soaring guitar displays and a cappella crooning, this RICHARD DAWSON was born in South Gosforth, Newcastle UponTyne; probably in the early 80s, going by the bearded one’s pics for thequietus.com.
Displaying the kind of technique probably only accrued to the likes of JAMES BLACKSHAW and others, DAWSON emerged from the underground scene with his simply and aptly-titled debut, SINGS SONGS AND PLAYS GUITAR (2005) {*6}. Despite its limited run of copies for sale, the CD/double-LP sparked up a bit of interest for the homespun follow-up release, MOTHERLAND (2008) {*6}.
Balancing his DIY solo offerings, a couple of years was spent noodling with his experimental “drone” alias, EYEBALLS, releasing as many as a dozen CD-rs/cassettes (see discography), several of them limited to one elongated track that followed in the footsteps of Elaine Radigue. A bit of a mini-celebrity back in Geordie-land, DAWSON was back to his conventional best by way of 2011’s THE MAGIC BRIDGE {*7}.
A steady build-up of further home support grew after folks witnessed performances at the KRAAK, Supersonic and Tusk festivals the following year, while accolade and recognition from his township was surely his when he was asked to draw from his knowledge of Tyne & Wear files and archives. Researching on a daily basis at the local museum, DAWSON’s conceptual analogue to the coalmen of the North was fully operational on the excellent, THE GLASS TRUNK (2013) {*8}.
Aided and abetted by amplified harp player, Rhodri Davies (who’d recently moved into the area), the part a cappella/part instrumental work was of true genius. Inspired by MIKE WATERSON and The COPPER FAMILY of ye olde folk purists ilk (at least in the song aspect), the cascading axeman-cometh minutes – numbered I-XII – were dark-as-night to his song’s bright-as-morn organics; folkies will enjoy the “Wicker Man”-esque aplomb of `The Ghost Of A Tree’, `Poor Old Horse’ and the delicate and wispy `Joe The Quilt-Maker’. The set was deserved of some sort of wider-scope release – at least for us Northerners.
The collaboration of Richard and Rhodri continued on the vinyl-only DAWSON-DAVIES: HEN OGLEDD (2013) {*7}, as one contemplated what would be next for this unique artist. The album itself was made of five dispatches, four on side one and flipped by the lengthy `Chickpea To Cook’. Loud and littered at times, the walls of freeform fuzz-folk are weaved into shape by both testing troubadour DAWSON and plucky avant-harpist Davies.
Endorsed by Domino Record’s Weird World enterprise, 2014’s peachy NOTHING IS IMPORTANT {*8} was met with several rave reviews. Not far from the maddening crowd, DAWSON’s freak-y folk stretched one’s imagination – beyond insanity. Only four tracks aboard, but in the respective 16-minute each `The Vile Stuff’ and the title track, the skewed singer-songwriter/guitarist allowed the listener to explore his manic mind-set. F-U-B-B.
Building a support outside the confines of the north and conjuring inspiration – or 5,000 spirits – from the Middle Ages as his inspiration, lo-fi-fee-fum folk jester Richard framed another canvas of excellence via PEASANT (2017) {*8}; one could almost picture an after-hours studio shut-in that encompassed The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, The WATERSONS and MEKONS. From the stop/start opening 2-minutes of `Herald’, and the raggle-taggle discord of `Ogre’, `Soldier’ and `Weaver’, DAWSON subtly transported his listeners back to the court of some crimson lord. His seemingly un-tuned guitar brush strokes, and a falsetto to die for – e.g. `Prostitute’ and the “Wicker Man”-like `Scientist’ – twist in like a minstrel about to face the chop. And if the supper-time sonnets didn’t quite run up the clock on this occasion, the prog-length `Beggar’ (at 7½ minutes) and anchor `Masseuse’ (at nearly 11), recalled ROBIN WILLIAMSON in his heyday.
Switching the political tempo up a notch and turning his musical egg-timer full-circle, visceral visionary DAWSON re-charged his batteries and looked to noodling his way into the foreseeable future on 2020 (2019) {*8}. By word of his vernacular he’d edged his way to #54 in the charts, a remarkable feat set against these austere age-ist times of pop-is-the-new-rock shit. Hats off to harker Richard; an artist who’d a canny way of fitting any amount of words into a sentence as long as the message was clear, came of er… age. The COMUS-like `Civil Servant’ pounded at the brain cells like some medieval leftover from his previous effort, however `The Queen’s Head’, `Two Halves’, `Black Triangle’ and the heavy-weight `Jogging’ – concerning all sorts of everyman/woman societal surges – somehow reflected our conquer-and-divide rulers; the anxiety/stress-driven `Dead Dog In An Alleyway’ pulled no punches.
© MC Strong/MCS Jan-Dec2014-Oct2019

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