# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Dodson and Fogg - Awake

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 17 / 7 / 2018

Dodson and Fogg - Awake
Label: Wisdom Twin Records
Format: CD


Breathtaking second Dodson and Fogg album for Chris Wade for 2018 which is accompanied with a book that displays his fascinating artwork and a thought-provoking short story

It was less than a couple of months ago that I wrote a few words about Chris Wade’s (aka Dodson & Fogg) then latest album, ‘ A New Day’. As usual the quality of Wade’s songwriting and skill on a number of instruments was duly noted and once again it was difficult not to rate the album as Wade’s best work to date, even after releasing around fifteen albums in just six years Wade is still sounding fresh and taking music to places few, if any, of his contemporaries are. Initial copies of Wade’s latest collection (at the time of writing; no doubt he’s already completed another set) come with a book featuring not only the lyrics to the songs on ‘Awake’ but also some of Wade’s artwork. According to the introduction in the book, Wade intended the artwork to “go alongside the music, in that the album is dream like and so are the pictures.” It is nice to read that Wade feels his music, especially on this album, is dream-like. It’s an apt description and one that I’ve been using since his debut to describe his music. As for the accompanying artwork, it’s brilliant, maybe more nightmarish at times than what I’d consider dream-like but a nightmare’s a dream too, right? Wade also notes in the introduction that “the album is really about consciousness, the idea of being awake and being asleep, and what the difference is.” This piece is about the new Dodson & Fogg album and book ‘Awake’; it’s not about me. But to get things into perspective I’m going to throw a few personal facts in here, not something I would usually consider and something that would usually stop me reading a review but, please, bear with me for a minute or two. I bought my first single in the early 1960s. I had probably saved my pocket money and forsaken Saturday Morning Pictures for a week or so to purchase it. My first album came shortly after that. Once I was old enough to start a paper round and had more cash of my own there was no stopping me. I was obsessed with music. I didn’t (and still don’t) say I collect records; I hate the description ‘record collector’ (although the magazine is still a good read most months). I buy music. I prefer vinyl but CDs are much more convenient. I listen to the things. There’s not a wall in our house that’s not groaning under the weight of shelves jammed with albums. Actually,that’s not true. I’ve been warned that once any type of album appears on a shelf in the kitchen or bathroom then I’ll be changing my address. It’s a little ironic; if I hadn’t spent a fortune on music through the years I could have afforded a bigger house to accommodate all the music that fills my current, modest abode. There is always a gap somewhere on one of the shelves though. I play music constantly. I use the albums to get me through, so I don’t consider myself a collector. It just so happens that for me music means more if I can hold it rather than hear it through a crappy computer. So, I’m long enough in the tooth to have seen them come and watch them fade away. Some have stayed and are still making brilliant and relevant music, some have certainly outstayed their welcome and many who initially showed great promise didn’t fulfill their fans’ (or their own) expectations. Then there’s Chris Wade. I’m far too old, seen and heard far too much to be a fanboy but when it comes to Wade’s musical output there hasn’t been, in my lifetime, another musician like him. He’s yet to make an average album. Although he occasionally ropes in a little help from a few famous friends, most of the sounds on his albums are self-made and by glancing over his shoulder at the classic sounds of the past he’s developed a sound of his own. To put it into perspective once again let’s take one of Wade’s own heroes, Neil Young. Young has released over forty ‘solo’ albums since 1969, and even his most ardent fan would surely be honest and admit that there are tracks, if not whole albums, where Young has missed the mark slightly, if only temporarily (and this is coming from someone who bought, in ’69, Young’s first solo album which hasn’t got his name printed on the front and not someone who waited until ‘Harvest’). Wade has yet to disappoint, and, although it has become a cliché, ‘Awake’ his latest album sounds like it’s Wade’s best work to date. Again. The point I’m making is that Chris Wade is one of a kind, in a class of his own and it’s about time the world woke up and fully appreciated his many talents. ‘Awake’ gives us eight new Wade originals. While it would appear that Wade sees this is a themed set of songs that maybe stands apart from his other work, it sounds more like a natural continuation of his last album, ‘A New Day’. But one thing that does set ‘Awake’ apart from his previous releases is the accompanying book. It’s not just cool to be able to scan Wade’s lyrics for once while listening to the music, but it’s the drawings that supplement the lyrics for each song that are captivating. It’s difficult to put the book down while listening to ‘Awake’; while Wade has always had that ability to draw the listener into his songs and take them on a journey with his music these drawings open up a whole new dimension to the songs. They are fascinating. ‘Awake’ features some of Wade’s most beautiful songs. ‘The Girl Made of Trees’ has a lovely melody. Wade’s usual dreamy, laid-back vocals have never sounded better. It displays the summery side to Wade’s music perfectly and just makes you want to head for the beach. The title song is one of Wade’s most captivating instrumentals. Looking at the drawings that compliment this track takes the listener on an even more beautifully unsettled journey than Wade’s instrumentals usually do. Like the following’ I Swear I am Awake’, there are also snatches of lead guitar that show why Wade should be hailed as one of our most innovative and brilliant guitarists. ‘In the City’ (not the Who or Jam song, but a Wade original) is another song in which Wade displays his tender side; once again evoking sunny days, the pretty melody and artwork that accompanies this song make it impossible not to be drawn into another place for the duration of the song. While as stated before Wade has never delivered an album that is merely average, there does seem to be more depth to his work over the last two albums. ‘We All Wear a Mask’ has echoes (no pun intended) of Pink Floyd about it, but it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why. That’s another reason why Wade’s work is so fascinating; there’s always something more to discover, something lurking beneath the surface that might take a few listens to be revealed. And although we’ve already mentioned yet again what a talented guitar player Wade is, his lead guitar on ‘The Girl of My Dreams’ has to be heard. Maybe the most interesting track on ‘Awake’ is the closing fifteen-minute instrumental ‘Journey through the Night’. Wade originally intended to have the short story that is included at the end of the book narrated by an actor over his music but finally decided to leave the track as an instrumental. It is a smart move actually as the track, given its length, is allowed time to develop and take in the whole range of different Wade’s in one cohesive piece. It’s a fascinating piece of work. Wade suggests the listener maybe reads the short story as they listen to the track; pace the story just right and doing so adds a whole new dimension to an already compelling musical experience. Where Chris Wade goes from here is impossible to predict. ‘Awake’, despite stiff competition from his previous albums, must now rate as Wade’s most adventurous work so far and, as there’s not one album that bears the Dodson & Fogg name that has lost any of its initial fascination or shine this far down the line, that’s some statement. Try and grab a copy of ‘Awake’ complete with the book if you can. While the album is a must-have the book is also essential. Apart from his outstanding artwork the short story that closes the book is absolutely brilliant. A visit to Chris Wade’s website at http://wisdomtwinsbooks.weebly.com is the perfect place to lose yourself in for a couple of hours while discovering one of the most talented, hard-working and deserving artists that this writer has come across in half a century.

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