Six years in the making (the songs here were written between 2017-23 in the main, Steve Dawson reckons that “Ghosts” sees him working with his dream band.

Certainly that skill and class are all the way through the “Time To Let Some Light In”, the opener. Dusting off his old Americana songbook it sees him shaking off the shadows: “The past is gone” he sings as the hook, seemingly reminding himself to look forward.

A record where the beauty is in the subtlety, the lap steel of “California” comes in like a springtime zephyr, and it is striking how gentle and soulful this sounds. Even when it’s angry, as on “Walking Cane” on which Dawson offers the plaintive thought “Maybe it’s the random crush of time” sounds ok with its lot.

It feels like for these 10 songs, Dawson has really put everything into it. The vivid poetry of “Sooner Than Expected” also finds his voice at his best, and the glorious “Leadville” surveys the decline of the town he grew up in and is not happy with what he finds.  A wonderful song, right down to the thought “The bus driver was a stone-cold racist, who didn’t like the way the Civil War turned out”, this could be on a Jason Isbell album and be the best song there. Praise comes no higher.

There is a timeless feel to these, in honesty. The brass-tinged “It Was A Mistake” could have emerged at any point since Elvis marched into Sun Studios and belonged. It’s tempting to imagine Dawson as a real musical archivist, who if he wasn’t talented enough to write brilliant music might start a website so he could try and tell the world about the skill of others (essentially my aim, due to having no talent).

Speaking to Dawson’s point about the skill of the musicians around him here, “I Am Glad To Be Alive” is one of a number to feature lovely vocals, and if the more sparse “A Mile South Of Town” is a real change of pace, then it sounds particularly ominous as it plays.

The piano of “When I Finally Let You Down” – played by Alton Smith – is a highlight, and how personal the words are, let’s leave open to question, especially as Dawson’s wife Diane Christiansen plays on the album.

The last one “Weather In The Desert” is one of the most poignant, given that Ingrid Graudins who sings on it, passed away not long after, and its beauty stands as a fitting epitaph.

Steve Dawson doesn’t make bad records. Each one that I have reviewed of his, has its own distinct charms. Whatever he was laying to rest on “Ghosts”, though, ensures this one is particularly special.

Rating 9/10

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