Texas Singer/Songwriter
Richard J. Dobson
   

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Discography > Reviews
Reviews
ON THISTLEDOWN WIND - ENGLISH REVIEW (JULY 2006)
BY JOHN CONQUEST
PUBLISHER / EDITOR OF 3RD COAST MUSIC

A River Will Do
 

Nanci Griffith, who covered his Ballad Of Robin Wintersmith, once called Dobson “the Hemingway of country music.” I once called him “the invisible man of Texas singer-songwriters.” Griffith was, of course, referring to his roughhewn literacy, I was remarking on the fact that despite playing alongside Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and Mickey Newbury in the late 60s/early 70s Houston songwriter scene and having some early successes, David Allan Coe recording Piece Of Wood And Steel, Carlene Carter & Dave Edmunds Baby Ride Easy, his name somehow failed to register. There are probably many Guy Clark fans who would be astonished to learn that Dobson cowrote the title track of Old Friends. However, if the Tyler, TX, born troubadour has little recognition in his home state, he does have the unswerving loyalty of Brambus, which has been putting out his albums, including reissues of his LPs, since 1993 (he’s had one US release, in 1994, on Austin’s Sundown Records, quite possibly the shortest lived label ever in a notoriously ephemeral business). Having made 16 of them over the last 30 years, anything Dobson doesn’t know about recording albums isn’t worth knowing, and Thistledown, featuring Thomm Jutz (guitars, mandolin, keyboards, harmonies), Pat McInerney (drums, percussion), Fats Kaplin (fiddle, pedal steel, guitar, accordion), LeAnn Etheridge (bass, harmonies), Catherine Craig (harmonies) and Sergio Webb (electric guitar, lap steel), with David Olney sitting in on harmonica for two tracks, could be taught in a master class on craftsmanship, sequencing, texture, changeups, all the things that make an album a pleasure to listen to.

 

 

A RIVER WILL DO - ENGLISH REVIEW (12/17/03)
BY ARTHUR WOOD
FOUNDING EDITOR OF FOLKWAX
A River Will Do

 

The short instrumental banjo 'n' accordion break that introduces the opening album title cut, possesses the feel of an old Irish air that lyrically (and typically) would go on to express a yearning to be "back home with my own folk on the old Emerald Isle." Richard Dobson's lyric, a tale of departure and arrival, opens with the portrait of a cold northerly blowing and seagulls screaming in the sky, as he turns the key in the front door lock for one last time and bids a fond farewell to Galveston Island on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Just for the memory, and by way of retaining some distant connection, he pockets a seashell while brushing a tear from his eye . The reason for leaving becomes apparent in the second verse with the succinct "Bound for the old world, my new world to be." These days Richard lives close to the Rhine River in northeast Switzerland. When the heart calls, the path that you must follow becomes inevitable; on those occasions when he wasn't pursuing the life of a full-time musician, Dobson enjoyed a passionate affair with saltwater activities (oil rigger, fisherman), as he recalls with "Blue water fever runs deep in my soul." That said, now domiciled in a landlocked country, he draws the conclusion, "If you can't find an ocean a river will do." Neatly bookending the album, the issue of yearning for home is further explored in the final cut, "Texas Is One Song Away." It's the only cover here, and was penned by California-based scribe Rick Dinsmore .

"Nothing Holy In The Holy Land", the second selection finds Richard delivering an evenhanded view of the currently fragile situation in the Middle East, and of the "lyin'" politicians - "May God help their souls" - who can't seem to find a way to break the cycle of violence. Dobson opens and closes the song, respectively, with the observations, "You'd be amazed at the killing power, Can be carried by a slip of a girl " and "But she slipped into Jerusalem, And turned herself into a bomb." Between the latter, he muses that the bomber may have been a "beautiful lover", "a wonderful friend" or a "mother with child" - but she casually tossed all of that away in one senseless and shattering moment of finality. I used the words "evenhanded" earlier, and in that regard, Richard attests "Christian, Jew or Muslim, With angry heart and blood on his hands."

There's a further reference to his native Lone Star state in "Houston Town" - a fond remembrance of his parents and of Leroy, a casual worker who helped them in their old age. Leroy, no youngster himself, goes for " minor surgery" but being H.I.V. positive perishes in the hospital. The aqueous ballad "A River Runs Through It", in truth a love song, possesses a similar gentle, meandering feel to the 1992 Robert Redford movie of the same name. That film was based on the early life of the author, the late Norman Maclean. Elsewhere, a young girl is forced into an arranged marriage in "The Hills Of Kosovo", while "Down On The Trinity River" - dedicated to his late buddy Johnny Guess [d. 2003] - is a real life recollection of the occasion in 1975 when Guess came calling. At the time Richard and his sweetheart were living next to the Trinity on Old Bill Culp's hog farm. "Tengo Que Volar" is a border crossing song. Dobson explores childhood memories in "Homemade Kites", while retrospective regret at the loss of a girl's innocence takes centre stage in "Kathleen."

Fact is A River Will Do is the strongest, most varied collection of songs that Dobson has put together in his quarter-century (plus)-long recording career.

 

 

DEUTSCHE REZENSIONEN
A River Will Do
COUNTRY HOME (Deutsches Online Magazin)
 
 

"Zwölf eigene Songs im überwiegend ruhigen Stil, teilweise mittelflott, laden hier zum intensiven Zuhören ein. Nicht nur die schönen Melodien, die z.T. sehr schnell in´s Ohr gehen, nein auch die Texte sind es mehr als wert, daß man ihnen Aufmerksamkeit schenkt!" (mehr)

 

 

 

CONCERTO Nr. 6 Dez/Jan 03/04 (österreichisches Magazin für Jazz, Folk, Blues, Worldmusic)
 
 

"Ein alter Bekannter ist der Texaner Richard Dobson. Er steht für das, was Texas ausmacht: Folk, Country und gemässigter Rock. Dobson ist wie (Kevin) Meisel auch ein Literat mit Gitarre, er beschreibt sein Leben im Süden, seine Leidenschaft und seine Wut (wie ich ihn verstehe!) Schön der Abschlusstitel "Texas is one song away". Der beginnt mit der Zeile: "Meine Lieder sind von der einfachen Art, wie jeder gleich erkennt, ein kleines bisschen über die Familie und ein kleiner Teil auch über Texas, ... ich mag ja nie mehr nach Texas heimkehren, aber Texas kann immer zu mir kommen!"

 

 

 

COUNTRY-MUSIC CLUB OF SWITZERLAND Newsletter Nov. 2003
 
 

"Manch ein Fluss strömte durch das Leben des 62jährigen Texanders - von Chile bis Michigan, Texas und Tennessee bis in die Schweiz.
Diese Flüsse, der Strom des Lebens und der unablässige Fluss der Kreativität in seinem Leben manifestieren sich in den zwölf Liedern seines siebzehnten Albums. A River Will Do ist bereits die vierte CD, die Richard Dobson gemeinsam mit seinem musikalischen Weggefährten und Produzenten Thomm Jutz veröffentlicht. Sie verbindet den musikalischen und produktionstechnischen Ansatz der drei vorherigen Alben: Rockiges rockt heftig, Country klingt nach deep Country und Folkiges kommt authentisch daher.

Vignetten des Lebens in den Südstaaten, die wahre Geschichte einer Frau aus dem Kosovo und die Gedanken des im freiwilligen Exil lebenden Songschreibers über das Leben und die Liebe fügen sich zu dem herausragenden Werk eines Künstlers zusammen, der beweist, dass die interessanten literarischen Songwriter auf den Nebenschauplätzen der Musikszene tätig sind.

Hoffnung, Wut und Leidenschaft Dobsons sind in den einzelnen Songs eingepackt. Begleitet von seiner strassenerprobten Band liefert er ein Album ab, das ihn mit seinen mittlerweile 62 Jahren auf den Höhepunkt seines musikalischen Schaffens führt.
Wer Songwriter wie Guy Clark, John Prine oder Nanci Griffith mag, sollte sich auch diese CD von Richard Dobson in sein Regal stellen." Reto Heiz

 

 

 

ROLLING STONE Deutsche Ausgabe Nov. 2003
 
  Alte Bäume kann man nicht mehr verpflanzen? Von wegen, Richard Dobson, uramerikanischer Songschmied, verschlug es vor Jahren schon "from the gulf coast of Texas to the old river Rhine", wie er hier im Irisch gefärbten Title-Track singt. Und er schlug Wurzeln, machte ein paar feine Platten mit seinem Partner Thomm Jutz, den es ironischerweise inzwischen nach Nashville verschlagen hat, aus Rock, Country und Folk. Zu thematischen Songs meist, Songs mit Moral. Hier beklagt Dobson das Schicksal einer Frau aus dem Kosovo, die, vom Vater verkauft, als Sklavin ihres Gatten in der Fremde vegetiert. Oder die Märtyrer-Massenproduktion im Nahen Osten und den religiösen Wahn in "Nothing Holy In The Holy-Land". Nicht ohne Koketterie indes: "My songs they are the simple kind as anyone can tell." Wolfgang Doebeling

 

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