Richard Dawson – The Glass Trunk Review

May 1, 2013

Tyne and Wear Archives, Tusk Music and Pixel Palace recently announced the Half Memory project seeing Richard Dawson and fellow Newcastle band Warm Digits create new works from the material they found within the Tyne and Wear Archives. This is Richard Dawson’s offering and it’s really very, very good.

I’d heard the entire album when it was broadcast live on and have been eargerly waiting for it’s release so I could once again savour it’s beauty. The layout of the album is fairly stange. Compared to Dawson’s earlier albums which feature mainly vocals and guitar, this album take a slighltly different approach. There are seven ‘songs’ on this album, which all tell stories that have been uncovereded from the archives. In between these songs are short, sometimes piercing segments of instrumentation which feature both Dawson and local harpist Rhodri Davies. At first, these intervals seem to be a sort of pallet cleanser between the often harrowing stories Dawson presents us with, though as the album goes on, they seem to be more relevant and their meaning feels more prominent. To me, they feel like a mirror image of sorts. While the ‘vocal only’ songs tend to be fairly straight forward in they way they tell stories of pain and suffering from the past, these instumental segments seem to display this anguish in a different form which, altogether, makes for an incredibly emotional record that is as gut wrenchingly painful as it is beautiful.

I cant sing the praises of this record enough. The stories it tells are interesting,heart breaking and displayed in such a way that they feel relevant and personal. Just listen to the way Dawson is singing, hearing every break in his voice, it’s passionate and makes for a completely enthralling listening experience.  The way he tells these stories through song is far beyond the abilities of anyone else. It really feels as if the stories he tells are his own, they’re done with so much passion it’s hard to realise that he’s only retelling tales of the past. This is specially live. I’ve heard numerous reports of his live renditions of songs bringing people to tears. I remember when I first heard Dawson sing ‘The Brisk Lad’ live at Tusk Festival 2012, it was a moment I’ll never forget. The room fell silent and you could tell that every single person had some way of  relating to the story and almost felt sorry for the man sharing this tale. Superb.

The whole album is up for streaming on Richard Dawson’s bandcamp page and is being released in a ‘CD in digipak with extensive liner notes’ by Dawson himself and a ‘ltd edition 180gm lp & 10″ housed in fold out screenprinted sleeve’ by the wonderful Alt. Vinyl. (The second of which I plan to get myself).

It’s one of the finest pieces of music I’ve heard all year.


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