from Victoria BC
The path leading to Victoria-based musician, Allen Dobb's latest CD, Bottomland (Skipping Stone/Pacific Music), has been a long and varied series of adventures. His quest has led Dobb from his youth in rural Alberta farm country, to several years in southern Africa using his agriculture degree from Washington State University and another land management stint on an Apache reservation in Arizona, to singer-songwriter showcases on stages of roots music hotbeds in Austin and Nashville. Dobb has documented his path of eclectic experiences with several recordings including a pair of CDs with his brother Cameron as Dobb and Dumela and 1998's Horses and Hills (Resource/Festival), his acclaimed solo debut.
The Kingston Whig Standard's Greg Burliuk wrote, "His exceptional songwriting skills make Dobb's CD, Horses and Hills extraordinary." The Georgia Straight's Tony Montague wrote, "Dobb skirts deftly past the temptation of clich� to create a highly individual album."
For all of Horses and Hills' lyrical gifts, it merely laid the groundwork for Dobb's musical achievements on Bottomland. Stony Plain Records' Holger Petersen, one of the world's most knowledgeable roots music authorities, enthused, "I'm a huge fan of Allen's work. His writing, arrangements, playing and singing have taken a big step forward with Bottomland."
Co-produced by Dobb and Blair Calibaba at Vancouver's Mushroom Studios, Bottomland features a host of Canada's finest musicians (drummer Pat Steward, bassist Rob Becker, Luke Doucet on electric guitar and pedal steel, organist Dave Kershaw, Jesse Zubot on mandolin, and harmony vocals by Robyn Carrigan), to produce a muscular, powerful soundscape reminiscent of Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen's most compelling work.
Finely-drawn characters like Della the two-step queen and "that ole hayseed Jimmy Roy�the hippest cat in Hollywood" populate Dobb's lyrical narratives, but the most fully realized writing are the descriptions of the vivid landscapes that frame the songs on Bottomland. Dobb takes the listener deep into those varied worlds, from the dusty Sonora desert, to the Canadian prairie's "big wide open", to the title track's broken and littered shadows.
It's an exquisite song cycle, fueled by a rich and varied life and a poet's eye for detail. The songs feel lived in and real. Roots music never sounded better.