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Richard Dawson - The Ruby Cord (Weird World/Domino)

8 December 2022

Guitarist/singer/songwriter Richard Dawson is part of a long line of British eccentrics – think Kevin Coyne, Kevin Ayers, Kevin Hewick. Despite not being named Kevin, Dawson has built a remarkable body of work out of blocks made from folk music, progressive rock, psychedelia, and a free-form improvisational element related to jazz, but not sounding like it. The culmination of a loose trilogy, The Ruby Cord dives into contemplation of humanity’s future through the lens of a science fiction story in which individuals construct their own reality. One might argue that, like many of the best SF tales, this one is less about the future than the present, given the existence of virtual reality, noise-canceling headphones, online pseudonyms, catfishing, and the like. Regardless, Dawson spins his yarns with a smorgasbord of strings, bells, synth, high pitched vocals and gently but firmly plucked acoustic guitars. Songs like “Horse and Rider,” “The Fool” and “Thicker Than Water” provide accessible entry points without suppressing his individuality, but the most unfiltered look at his artistry comes from opening track “The Hermit,” a long, quiet, semi-symphonic masterpiece that, at forty-one minutes, is an album unto itself. Imaginative, inviting, and gorgeous, The Ruby Cord is the kind of album that could have been made by no one other than its creator.