Ah, this good old Richard! 🇬🇧
Richard Dawson is really in my top 3 favorite artists of the decade but I think you will understand this by reading my review of "Peasant". Today, the best bard of his time is back, with an album entitled "2020", goodbye the Middle Ages and hello the zeitgeist....
Dawson is originally from Newcastle, England. He has two masterpieces in his discography: "Nothing Important" (2014) and "Peasant" (2017); a record that has revealed him to a wider audience. From the beginning, the unclassifiable "folker" has incorporated blues, African folk, and prog-rock influences into his music. Richard Dawson is even interested in Qawwali; music played in Sufi shrines in Pakistan and India that was popularized by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the late Pakistani master. Yeah, Dawson is a competent and cultivated musician.
Literally, he is the best lyricist of the United Kingdom. On "Peasant", among others, the author introduced us to 11 different characters, divided into as many songs, who told their personal stories from their own perspective. He is a master at grasping the concerns of the average Englishman. All this magnificent work continues with the 6th album of this genius songwriter. "2020" makes a sensational entry into this musical year. This new album is an irrefutable portrait of an England in profound change, on the verge of social debacle and no longer finding its bearings.
The country depicted by Dawson in "2020" highlights individuals with sincere concerns (conflicts, unfulfilled desires, etc.). These snubbish men and women, driven out by a political and economic elite and now turning to extremism to make their voices heard... Dissatisfied civil servants dreaming of better days, anxious runners, humble tenants unable to find affordable housing, immigrants brutally assaulted under the complicit eye of the police, football trippers who dream of being the next Lionel Messi and tavern owners who are victims of repeated floods (brutal consequences of climate change), all these characters are breathing... misfortune! Dawson is a storyteller, a true one, sincerely concerned about the human condition rather than the narcissism so characteristic of our time.
In "Fulfilment Center", the artist offers us a 10-minute epic song that tells the story of a worker working in a factory and totally alienated by his work who, behind his machine, has a kind of revelation:
There has to be more to life
Than killing yourself to survive
I refuse to do this filthy work anymore! »
- Fulfilment Center
Musically, despite the classical instrumentation (guitars, synths, bass, drums), Dawson's compositions are tortuous and inventive. Man always surprises us with a chord that comes out of nowhere, an atypical change of rhythm or a dissonant vocal inflection. And what about these melodies strongly inspired by English folklore? All this talent is expressed with disconcerting ease, and this, without ever falling into old-fashionedness.
Virtuosity, eloquence, black humour, authenticity (not the one promoted by the wonderful world of marketing), this guy has all the qualities required to be the most important folk artists of our time... but God knows that there are many hares pretending for this crown. So, if you want to lend an ear to an album as bourrative as it is sincere, this "2020" could well be your folk rock album of the year!
Best tracks: "Two Halves", "Fulfilment Center", "Civil Servant", "Jogging", "The Queen's Head", "Black Triangle", "Dead Dog in an Alleyway".
Worst track: "Fresher's Ball"