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Allen Dobb is a Canadian singer-songwriter with a canon of recorded gems topped by the recently released CD, Rosetown (Skipping Stone/ Pacific Music). On the new recording, Dobb has created an inspired collection of songs with an undeniable majesty and grace. 

In 2002 the Alberta-raised, Victoria-based musician’s Bottomland (Skipping Stone/ Pacific Music) won critical acclaim for its lyrical narratives and vivid sonic landscapes. Rosetown builds upon these songwriting strengths right from the cinematic scope of the opening track’s seductive pedal steel guitar and African walking rhythms. Coupled to Dobb’s sly, poetic lyrics, "Train Dream" slips neatly into "Barbed Wire Love’s" immaculate studio craft and lyrics that capture rural life with surgical precision. "Hired Hand" follows with an even more finely drawn narrative and an equally compelling country tune. 

Allen Dobb knows the country. He’s farmed and tossed bales of hay, juggled an academic career in Range Management from Washington State University, and applied his education in the Arizona desert and on African plains. You can hear his travels and deep roots on every track on the new CD. 

His third CD as a solo artist after releasing a pair of recordings with Dobb and Dumela in the early 1990s, Rosetown conjures-up the Canadian landscape and even deeper, more personal realms.  Credit producer/engineer John Ellis (Be Good Tanyas, Jeremy Fisher), who also plays guitars, mandolin, banjo and pedal steel on Rosetown, for mixing an evocative soundscape that showcases Dobb’s well-crafted lyrics and hook-laden, eclectic music. Allen Dobb has a strong, blue-collar voice that critics have compared favorably to Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen. But, his voice is his own. 

On Rosetown, Dobb’s vocals inhabit a cast of characters with a master’s grace. One exemplary performance is his reading of "Next Year Country". On that song he sings both sides of a rural partnership’s longing and caps the tune with a line punctuated with hope. Like the greatest blues, it transcends heartache. Dobb carves to the core of this bond on "Reasons Why", singing passionately, “I don’t know the reasons why/ Some things live and some things die/ And if I did/ Every one I’d give/ To see our love survive.” "Maggie O’Donnell" is another tale of loss and longing. A simple, hypnotic, acoustic guitar melody frames each finely etched image in this haunting, multi-layered narrative. 

Among Rosetown’s strengths is the recording’s flawless sequencing, and "Maggie O’Donnell" flows like a magic trick into "Magnetic North’s" passionate, dreamlike, CD-capping vision. The eleven originals and a wise reading of Peter Case, Bob Neuwirth and Tom Russell’s classic collaboration, "Beyond The Blues" are rich with piercing, poetic images and hard-won wisdom.  Dobb has created a powerful suite of songs that captures the grandeur of the west and the mysteries of the heart. 

In Rosetown’s title track, Dobb paints a cowboy drama with a terrific psychological twist.  With its spooky emotional undertow, "Moonlight Stroll (song for Neil Stonechild)" tells a tale of cold prairie injustice. “I think I’m really coming into my own on Rosetown. “.My writing, my voice – sometimes it was like a subconscious layer being revealed to me. Some of the songs kind of wrote themselves,” Dobb explained. “We were all in the same room when we recorded, and I think it helped create Rosetown’s intimate, laidback narrative flow.” 

Rosetown’s majestic song cycle has the ring of truth. The lyrics and music sound like they grew into songs by themsleves. They sound like they’ve been lived. Rosetown is a beauty.


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