The first track of Nightshade sets up the sound for the rest of the album. Electric guitar and organ give this album a much fuller feel than previous efforts, but the sound is recognizably Dawson: folk-blues with great guitar and his unmistakable baritone voice. He expands and develops the formula that worked so well for his 2008 releases, Telescope and Waiting for the Lights to Come Up.
Fans of slide guitar should treat Dawson’s albums as a master class. His use of national guitar and weissen-born is bolstered by his increased use of electric slide guitar. His finger-style acoustic slide work is similarly impressive as his second track, “Darker Still,” illustrates.
The addition of electric guitar makes for a groovier sound, but Dawson’s songwriting is essentially the same. His voice adds to his appeal, but his range is small and his vocal melodies only occasionally impress. The same is true of his lyrics — every song has a similar rhyme scheme and he seems unwilling to tackle words with more than one syllable.
Regardless, the album is worth checking out for its production and its exceptional guitar.