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Graham DawsonGraham Dawson
Album: Another Year
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 14

Staffordshire singer songwriter Graham Dawson is back with his second full length CD following on from 2012's "These Things Are Ours" and what a difference! Graham's music has gained a confidence, a power and purpose - it stands up incredibly well when compared to established groups (I'm reviewing this back to back with the latest Oysterband release).

On this outing, the mix moves from country tinged folk, visiting Americana and bluegrass before adding pop and rock to the styles on show. "Age" is an anthemic rocker written about the struggle our elder generation now face. It features the talent of Mike Scape whose's electric guitar has a wonderful melodic feel.

"Move On" visits from the opposite view, a time for the new generation to take this country on, the time to rest is here, you feel the tiredness creep into your bones.

Whatever the style the quality of the songwriting shines through, on "Hometown Lights" we are treated to the kind of catchy hooks and choruses that Lindisfarne excelled at in the late Seventies.

Indeed there's almost a retro feel to a number of tracks here "I Need Your Love" has a predominantly uptempo 60's pop influence whilst "Haven't They Heard" has a Hawaiian feel, yet you never question the switch, the tracks are strongly penned and stand in their own rights.

"Take The Sun",is a classic love song, expressing what your partner means to you "no matter how impossible life seems", the album title "Another Year" is a reflective look back and the opportunity to learn for the future and move on.

If you have a soft spot for Railwaymania then "Train In The Valley" which laments the passing of the Biddulph Valley Line which closed in 1968, should fulfil your need and the latest news is that the railway may yet be reopened!

The standout track for me though is the darkly delicious "Water In The Creek" a brooding threatening relationship bruiser of a song. Immediate nods towards Handsome Family are dispelled, this is worth the admission price alone. I could listen to it on endless repeat. It's the best individual song I've heard this year bar none.

Three add-on bonus tracks are tacked on in a bluegrass style, the banjo and mandolin allows the vocals to come to the fore, you appreciate the quality of lyrics even more.

This is a release that deserves to be listened to, although credited to Graham Dawson as a solo artist the contributions of Tom Carter, Mike Spape, Matt Plant, Steve Giddings, Nick Barber, Ralph Crossley, Geoff Berrow and Tim Mundy are superb.

On the launch night, the well respected folk venue the Biddulph Arms had to turn people away such was the demand to appreciate the music of Graham Dawson. At this rate his next release will fill The Town Hall, why not find out what all the fuss is about. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Ian Cripps