Noël Dashwood is, of course, one third of Alden Patterson and Dashwood, a trio that has been making waves in recent years. His first, eponymous, solo album affords him the opportunity to demonstrate his talents, notably on Dobro and lap steel as well as a composer and song-writer. He’s joined by a number of guest musicians bringing drums, keys, fiddles, mandolin, banjo and vocals to the party.
The album opens with the instrumental, ‘Spraying Mud’, which begins with a bit of slide noodling before heading off into the distance at a cracking pace featuring Niles Krieger’s fiddle and Evan Davies’ mandolin taking solos and a second guitar from Robbie Caswell-Jones. Next is ‘On The Ropes’ with Leon Hunt’s banjo taking the lead. They are both inventive tracks played with great vigour and just when you might be thinking, “OK, what else have you got?”, when there appears a brief vocal interlude before the tune ends. The third track is ‘Sailed Away’ and you know the answer. The song is about emigration and exile. “We didn’t ask for this but did nothing to stop it happening” is the key line, begging the question – are these the words of the exiles or those of us, the observers? Sadly the song is far too short.
‘New Express’, a song co-written with Jose McGill, takes us into rock territory with Greg Cook’s Hammond providing the foundation along with Noël’s bass and that’s followed by ‘Please, Stop Lying’, an instrumental with wordless vocal overlays. Unexpectedly, ‘Once Been’, begins with finger-picked acoustic guitar with Kelly Winng on second vocals and Noël encompasses environmental issues, politics and the simple desire to question the world in one short lyric.
‘December’ is another slide instrumental with Alex Patterson’s fiddle lending support. It’s a wistful sort of tune and leads nicely into the pure country of ‘Rarotonga’ – Noël did well to restrain himself this long – with Kelly taking the lead vocal part this time. Rarotonga is the largest of the Cook Islands (I didn’t know that either) and the guitar playing drifts into the south Pacific as the song draws to its conclusion. Finally, ‘On The Clock’ is initially a gentle, languid song with switches to forceful rock at the halfway mark before returning to acoustic guitar.
Noël has certainly set out a varied stall with this album and made his mark as a composer but I can’t help wondering if he started out to do something for fun and found that it just grew or whether it is intended as a serious statement of future intentions.
Artist’s website: https://www.facebook.com/noel.dashwood.1/
‘Spraying Mud’ – informally live:
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