Richard Dawson: The Magic Bridge / The Glass Trunk
December 11th 2015 | Weird World | Albums
Following the release of the acclaimed Nothing Important in 2014, December sees the reissue of the debut albums of Tyneside songwriter Richard Dawson, The Magic Bridge and The Glass Trunk.
The Magic Bridge marked a significant leap in Dawson’s development as a musician, a moment when he seemed to find his own voice, both vocally and through his guitar playing. He’d already been performing and recording around Newcastle for several years at this stage, but The Magic Bridge suggested Dawson had experienced some major personal epiphany that had brought a unique fire to his music. Originally released in 2011, most of the tracks on the album still make frequent appearances in Dawson’s reputedly firebrand live sets and little wonder why – it’s the sound of what was a developing Richard Dawson bursting gloriously out of his chrysalis, those first dazzling glimmers of beguilingly Beefheartian folk picking and a voice with a profound range, emotionally, musically and in terms of the peerless lyrical journeys he’s been taking us on ever since.
2012 saw another stylistic veer with the creation of The Glass Trunk. Triggered by a commission to respond to the local museum service’s archives, Dawson created an album largely from stories found in an old 17th Century scrapbook, including a lengthy paean to the sorry demise of community pillar Joe The Quilt-maker and the much-loved yet equally, viscerally dark Poor Old Horse. 6 acapella odes of between 4 and 13 minutes in length, plus a rendering of Mike Waterson’s The Brisk Lad, intersperse with a series of brief instrumental vignettes, Dawson’s guitar sparring with the electric harp of Rhodri Davies for strictly spontaneous 60-second blasts. When Dawson produces an album, he thinks of it as a whole thing, a body, not a collection of pieces, and the deftness he applies to that process affords the finished work a rare richness and depth.
The Magic Bridge
1. Juniper Berry Floats Down The Stream
2. Black Dog In The Sky
3. Wooden Bag
4. The Bamburgh Beast
5. Grandad’s Deathbed Hallucinations
6. Cumberland Rag
7. We Picked Apples In A Graveyard Freshly Mowed
9. Man Has Been Struck Down By Hands Unseen
10. The Magic Bridge
The Glass Trunk
1. A Parent’s Address To His Firstborn Son On The Day Of His Birth
4. Poor Old Horse
7. William And His Mother Visit The Museum
10. The Brisk Lad
13. Joe The Quilt-Maker
16. The Ghost Of A Tree
19. The Ice-Breaker Baikal