Richard Dawson Peasant
The titular peasants of Richard Dawson’s excellent June album seem like the sort of folks who live in the Westerosi cities on Game of Thrones, far removed from their rulers’ scheming. Dawson, an Englishman gaining traction for his fanciful folk songs, paints vivid pictures—of Medieval commoners scared to die in battle, struggling to stay fed, warding off dark characters—with a compositional style reminiscent of Roy Harper and Joanna Newsom.
If the lyrical content sounds odd, it is, but the accompanying music—which marries John Fahey’s acoustic-guitar sublimity to Captain Beefheart’s badass barroom stomp—is so compelling, you might find yourself wandering ’round the house emulating Dawson’s delivery on lines like “Miscreants, malingerers, dastards and knaves.” His voice, like Newsom’s, will turn some away, though there can be no denying its emotional richness. Sonic adventurers with open minds should try “Ogre” (which features a choir backing Dawson), then proceed to the hair-raising “Soldier” (“The rolling fields grow dark as the grave/And I am running for my life”). If you’re still onboard, you’re good to go.