Dixon Line Music 2019
Mainstay of Montreal’s blues scene unravels ancestral yarn to spin, with a lot of panache, a series of arresting stories
A veteran of Canadian rock, Dwane Dixon may not have many platters under his belt, yet it’s quality that matters , not quantity, and what the singing guitarist delivers is a top-notch matter – especially here. “Betting On A Gambling Man” is a brilliant slab – or, rather, a collection of gemstones which gather no moss – of rhythm-and-blues, although the stylistic notions mean nothing in this case.
While digging into family affairs is a pretty common subject for Dwane’s chosen genre, by delving into his father’s life on the album’s titular cut Dixon not only strikes a personal chord – and handles all the instruments – but also dusts off a flurry of licks that will affect many a listener, for his twang and voice are vigorous enough to cause a stir on the dancefloor with this inflammable slice of music. Just as incendiary, if much heavier in its unhurried strut, “A World Of Hurt” should offer an infectious riff, electric filigree and acoustic lace to dull the artist’s romantic suffering, yet “Swallow That Pill” will turn the pain into swagger and take the rumble a notch up for the piece’s chorus to provoke a singalong.
On the other end of emotional spectrum lies the album’s effects-stricken finale “The Awakening”: the record’s only wordless piece that picks up where “Telstar” left off and allows Dwane to flesh out an Eastern tune with muscular, and spaced-out, groove, shifting melodies and shuffling when he’s about to get down to Earth and let “Wanna Be Your Man” chug forward. But though the slider-caressed “Ain’t No Big Thing” pitches a different, pulsing sort of insistence to what Dixon does here – raving, revving, and rolling off the frets – the transparent “I Buried Your Bones” proposes a playful, country-informed stroll to the railroad track, before the moonlight serenade of “Small Town Talking Blues” could pull the plug on any urgency there’s been earlier were it not for the adventurously hilarious lyrics. So once a smile-inducing swirl of “Whiskey You Don’t Lie” has swung across the rockabilly landscape, there’s no going back to gambling – the game is on anyway.