How many artists would dare open with a 40 minute song? The Hermit, from Richard Dawson’s latest album, Ruby Cord, takes us on a meandering journey that changes its dynamics throughout the song. Starting off almost as a lazy freeform jazz piece, with each of Dawson’s band adding their own musical highlights to the sparse soundscape. It seems to represent the hermit’s life as he wanders around in his own world, distracted by nature. It is beautifully understated. About 10 minutes in, Dawson’s vocals kick in weaving the story of the Hermit as his life takes a right turn. Over the next 30 minutes, the music shifts styles, like movements in a classical piece, as the Hermit life changes.
The Hermit was my favourite song from last year. Quite unlike anything else. The song is a work of genius. Completely unlike anything else I heard last year, or any year.
Tonight, was another masterclass of how Dawson can weave stories that seem timeless. Surely these are long lost English folks songs?
This was the first time I have seen Richard with his own band, performing as Richard Dawson. This wasn’t his foot stomping solo performances that can keep a festival enchanted. This was something new. Sublimely beautiful. Every instrument adding accents to Dawson’s guitar and vocals. Never overstepping and coming to the fore. Dawsons songs can have an other-worldly feel to them. Tonight, his band seemed to be playing from behind the veil. It was like they were echos from the past.
It is hard to explain a Richard Dawson performance to those that haven’t seen him. Rooted in folk. Richard manages to avoid all folk’s generic musical patterns. His songs could equally be amped up and be prog or even a metal piece. With it’s musical movements, Hermit could easily be a piece by a classical composer as a reflection on folk traditions. When combined with his distinctive vocals, his music genre hops without ever leaving folk.
Tonight was simply sublime. Perfect in every way.