Recorded at both Vancouver’s the Factory Studios and in his home studio the Henhouse, Steve Dawson’s second release this year is a pedal steel-infused instrumental ride through this prolific B.C. songwriter’s musical mind. Many fans of Dawson’s work will recognize long-time collaborators Chris Gestrin, who has played with Randy Bachman and k-os, on keyboards and Keith Lowe, who has played with Fiona Apple and Bill Frissel, on bass. Scott Amendola is featured on drums and guest appearances are made by Vancouver jazz trumpeters J.P. Carter and Brad Turner.
The album opens with “Caballero’s Dream,” a moody track that sounds like it could be the theme music to a spaghetti western. Dawson shows that his time spent learning the pedal-steel guitar with Greg Leisz (care of a Canada Council grant) was not wasted. It is a wonderful addition to his already large arsenal of stringed instruments. There are lots of intriguing sounds on this album, and Dawson’s production includes both fluid improvisation and planned song structures. Apart from the overarching sound of the pedal steel, the album features an eclectic array of instruments including Wurlitzer, Fun Machine, Moog, pump organ, ukulele, banjo and glockenspiel. Dawson single-handedly composed all but one of the songs on the album. “1000 Year Old Egg” was co-written with Gestrin. Impressive musicianship, clever production and innovative use of instruments make this release a gem. The melodies are so compelling that you often don’t even notice Telescope’s absence of words.