15 November 2016
Written by David McCabe

Dawn Tyler Watson

Dawn Tyler Watson
Photo: L. Calman
On the bio page of the Dawn Tyler Watson web site, there is this quote from Geoff Chapman, of the Toronto Star:

“This utterly assured performer has you believing she's a front-ranking country singer, a soul diva, a jazz warbler, a new adult contemporary specialist, a swing siren- as well as a basic blues belter."

After listening to this album, I think you will probably agree, this lady can sing whatever she wants. 

We can hear the blues right from the first song, ‘Can’t Nobody’, featuring Paul DesLauriers, which is a cover of a song by Steve Cirkvencic & Jeanne Petersen, and starts with some great old school blues guitar licks, that lead into Dawn doing a great vocal.

Follow that with ‘Shine On’, an original Tyler Watson song featuring the vocals of Patrick Lehman, which sounds like an old time Gospel spiritual being sung around a big camp fire, and has the inspiring lyrics you would expect from the title.

‘A Little Bit More’, a jazz-blues tune featuring Ben Racine on guitar and vocals, slows us down in tempo, but stays hot with a nice duet:
  • now I know we made mistakes baby / had some real bad breaks
  • and that last fight left us feeling so sore / but baby I been thinking ‘bout it

  • and there’s no way I can doubt it / I’m thinking maybe I need / a little bit more

This is something that I noticed while listening to this album, the lyrics. Much more than I normally do, I was remembering entire verses on the first or second listen. Dawn’s writing seems to strike a chord, if you will pardon the pun.

A multitude of vocalists and musicians, as well as those already mentioned, helped on the production of this album, which does not hurt Ms. Watson’s versatility and range at all.

We hear these folks playing different styles from the boogie-woogie blues of ‘Son of A Gun’, with Paul and Ben together, to the sexual innuendo filled slow as molasses ‘Tootsie Roll Blues’, featuring Morgan Moore on upright bass, and giving us lyrics like:
  • you’re my tootsie roll daddy / taste just like a tootsie pop
  • tell me how many licks to the center darlin’ / till that sweet sugar drop
to the slow country ballad sound of ‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’, with its pedal steel of Dimitri Lebel-Alexandre and acoustic guitar of Rob MacDonald a perfect complement to Dawn’s voice, and then to the big band and boogie-woogie sounding ‘Rotten’, showing off the piano of John Sadowy, tenor sax of Little Frankie, and the baritone sax of Moose, Ms. Watson shows some great range, and some fine songwriting abilities, as these are again all originals.

Next, we see how Dawn has assimilated into the culture of her adopted hometown of Montreal, with ‘Smoked Meat’, featuring Ron Di Lauro on trumpet, a tribute to a famous Montreal sandwich platter. 
  • now a vegetarian I am not / I like some meat in my pot
  • and even my mama’s sweet potato fries / only tend to make me realize
  • that I want … Smoked Meat
‘Greenbacks’ is a Ray Charles cover (written by R. Richard) featuring Charles Papasoff on baritone sax. Dawn belts this one out, I can easily imagine her doing this live in a one of our jazz clubs here.

Next, ‘I See’ is an original upbeat R&B influenced little ditty about the not so upbeat experience of being burned in a relationship. Good performance by everybody on this one.

A cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’ is beautifully sung in a very nice arrangement with piano, drums and bass, before we hear another original, ‘It Ain’t Elvis’. This song tells the story of a woman that does not want to let go of her relationship, and has my favorite lyric of the album:
  • it ain’t over till the fat lady sings
  • it ain’t through / until I cut those strings
  • it ain’t easy being all alone / and it ain’t Elvis on the telephone
The album finishes with ‘Shine On – Rise’, with Patrick Lehman on vocals again, continuing the inspirational theme of the earlier song, but here with just vocals and minimalist percussion and keys. 

Over all, I really like this album. I have enjoyed the work of Dawn Tyler Watson since the work she did with Paul DesLauriers as a duo for a few years, and was looking forward to seeing her put the voice together with a whole band. With the help of some of the talent Montreal has in the pool of musicians, she has done very well.

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