Looking Up At The Same Star
Dawson's 12th recording is a fresh and modern collection of love & wedding songs with catchy melodies and a tight band backing them up. Think Knopfler and Nick Drake fronting the Dave Matthews Band.
Click on a song title to preview the song, or on the lyric sheet icon to view the lyrics below. More information about this recording can be found in the details section.
This is the second collaboration between Dawson Cowals and producer/musician extraordinaire, Nick Garrett-Powell, and Dawson's 12th full-length recording. Taking a new bent and direction from his entirely acoustic previous release, "Coffee Shop Songs," this new project explores Dawson's creative song stylings; offerings range from acoustic guitar and violin ballads to hard-rock funk, haunting choral vignettes all the way to French language hip-hop. Nick once again showcases his amazing harmonies and diverse arrangements, but really shines in his expressive electric guitar leads borrowing inspiration from the likes of Knopfler and Satriani. Joining Dawson and Nick on this project is the percussion prodigy, Nick James, who manages to capture Dawson's many intricate rhythmic and timing changes and really helps rock the project up several notches.
This CD is a special collection of love & wedding songs that Dawson has written over the last 10 years for friends and performed at their weddings. The majority of the album includes recent love songs that he has written for his own wife, especially "Cord of Three Strands" which he sang as a proposal in the Fall of 2008. The album starts off with an upbeat rock tune about how they met through an online dating service and features a humorous modem dial-up sequence as a solo break. The rock ballad, "Same Star", continues to further the story of their relationship and give the title for the album through the lyric: "Now we go outside at night / Hand in hand we pass 'neath the streetlights / So we can look up into the sky / Together look up at the same star." The highlight on the album is the hip-hop track "Mon étoile filante" which Dawson wrote entirely in French and sings of how his wife is "My shooting star, my jewel from heaven, my gift from God above."
The album ends with a couple of bonus acoustic versions of some of the earlier songs to highlight Dawson's signature pinch-slap, percussive picking technique. The final track is a short reprise of the song "Starting" featuring just Dawson's vocals and Nick's amazing harmonies. All in all this is a great modern collection of love songs that provides many new choices to replace some of the more antiquated tracks normally heard at most weddings.
Highly recommended for fans of Brandon Heath, Bebo Norman, Matt Nathanson, and Joshua Radin.
Review by Kelly O'Neil, "Review You"
The follow up album to Dawson Cowals' reflective Coffee Shop Songs is a deliberate departure both musically and lyrically. Looking Up At The Same Star is still heavily Christian and co-produced by the same dynamic duo, Cowals and Nick Garrett-Powell, but a significant life altering event has occurred in Cowals' life between these two albums: the singer/songwriter has gotten married. Marriage is an exciting, joyous time in one's life, and Cowals seems so overcome by these new tidal waves of emotions that he can scarcely contain himself, or his songs. Looking Up At The Same Star is a much more electric album than the laid back Coffee Shop Songs. There is less instrumentation and less variety, with the exception of "Mon étoile filante," which is entirely in French.
The album opens with "You Wore That Smile," a boisterous rock and roll number featuring some bizarre pitch bending effects in the vocals and drums and an electric guitar solo in the bridge. Even though Cowals met his wife online and then later on the phone prior to the actual first date (at a coffee shop, of course), the telephone and modem noises in the second bridge of the opener do not exactly scream out unabashed love, despite their relevance to the story.
Garrett-Powell solos on electric guitar again in "31:30," a clever personal adaptation of Proverbs 31:30, "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is in vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised," (NRSV). Being a devout Christian in today's world can be frustrating because it is tough to not accept compromises. Cowals' questions God's plan and if there is a soul mate out there for him. Obviously his patience paid off when he met his wife Jessica. These are real questions and challenges that many Christian singles face and Cowals continues this theme in the title track, "Same Star." This profound tune with a catchy chorus is all about the fate when two people who have not met yet are both staring up into the heavens at the same moment. "You Are" embodies this loneliness and eventual fruition of love as God's plan for a couple unfolds. Garrett-Powell adds harmonica to Cowals' multi-layered vocals in this happily ever after gem.
Throughout Looking Up At The Same Star, Cowals' enunciation is clear and more articulate than on Coffee Shop Songs. This newfound drive and energy comes out in the mid-tempo "Starting" where the sound is filled out with keyboards and dramatic chord breaks ala The Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris." A lovely accapella rendition of "Starting" is heard at the conclusion of the album. Cowals' new grasp on life with a loving partner for life fuels his creative high octane outbursts like "Your Face." The lyrics are beautiful and would make any wife proud, but the loud heavy electric guitars detract from the message. Cowals proposal song to Jessica, "Cord of Three Strands" boasts another lovely set of lyrics about the sacred union between husband, wife and Lord of Lords, but the shredding electric guitars simply do not seem to fit the mood. In the acoustic version featured at the end of the album the lyrics are more easily understood and appreciated.
Rounding out Looking Up At The Same Star is "1000 Butterflies" previously heard on Coffee Shop Songs. Originally written for a friend's wedding, this stripped down version of the song, featuring violinist Deborah Katz is a much better fit on this album of love songs.
As Cowals continues along life's journey it will be interesting to hear how other life changing events will shape his music. God willing, he will stay true to himself and continue to touch other's lives with his talented songwriting.
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
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