The gospel according to Dixon
D. Allen | Studio City, Ca. United States | 03/16/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's hard for me to choose when it comes down to what I like best about Don Dixon. After all, the guy can compose (both music and lyrics), play, sing, engineer, and produce - all at a world class level, and all within the space of a single album. Oh, yeah... and he's married to Marti Jones... a HUGE plus!When I first play a new Don Dixon album, it makes me think. Then it makes me smile. And finally, by the time it's finished, it makes me want to play it again!"Romantic Depressive" is such an album. Rich in texture without being "overproduced". Thoughtful and insightful lyrically. Varied in style and feel while remaining cohesive, it has always felt like an "album" to me and not just a collection of songs.Specifically, what do I like about it? Okay, buckle up, here we go...DD is an outstanding bass player. Melodic and sensitive, he seems able to lock onto the drummer at will and offer us a clockwork rhythm section performance, (as in "Righteous Side Of Love"), but it doesn't stop there. No one trick pony is Don. I'll often catch him playing ever so slightly behind or in front of the beat (check out "Lottery Of Lives"). His feel is top notch and his choice of notes often leaves me with a grin.DD is also a much-more-than-competent musician when it comes to instruments beyond his beloved bass. Listen to his acoustic guitar work on "Giving up the Ghost" or his electric chops on "Righteous Side Of Love".Vocally, DD is a distinctive and versatile singer with just enough "whisky" in his voice to ratchet up the "character factor" an additional notch or two. Oh, yeah... and he sings in tune!DD is an outstanding composer/lyricist. His charts and arrangements are always complex, but never cliche'd. Always rich and full without being cluttered. His lyrics are often insightful and thought provoking. No "moon in June" here... No "you're so fine, wish you were mine"... His lyrical choices are always tasteful and inventive. Never boring or pedantic, always interesting and unique. Need an example? Listen to "25000 Days", a sensitive and wry examination of a man's life and time spent vs. time wasted."...Choking back the fear of ever after
To know the taste
Of time gone to waste
Without the laughter..."
-from 25000 days-DD is a top notch producer. He plays the studio like yet another instrument. For example, his production chops really shine in the seamless blend of the multiple lead vocals and acoustic guitars featured in the aforementioned "25000 Days". Most producers would double the lead vocal electronically to fatten it up, but not Dixon. He gives us at least three distinct, unique, discreet voices carrying the lead. (Backed up by a mountain of acoustic guitars!) Still not convinced? Then listen to the flawless choral vocal work dripping with reverb in the gospel flavored "I Should Know Better". (I could swear I was in church!) Or the downright funky instrumental "Good Golly Svengali". Or the soulful "Everytime I Think Of Home". The list goes on and on.Oh, and there's one more thing. DD works at Reflection Studios... A lot! It's a killer room... One of my all time favorite sounding studios. I just thought I'd throw that in!Finally, for me "Romantic Depressive" is a great "go to" album. It is beautifully recorded with a rich, smooth, full sound. I like to play it at the end of a session (yes, I'm a recording engineer), when the client is waiting for me to finish burning the dubs of the evening's work. With "Romantic Depressive" blasting out of the studio's Urei 829 time aligned monitors, propelled into every corner of the room by 700 watts of raw power, I've had more than a few clients come over to the mixing desk, pick up the jewel box, and ask, "This is really good, who is this guy?" I just smile and say, "That's Don Dixon. He is really good. Oh, yeah, and he's married to Marti Jones!".Daniel Allen