Warner Music Nashville’s Devin Dawson has been one to keep a close eye on in recent years. His debut album ‘Dark Horse’ produced a big #1 hit with ‘All On Me’, but the overriding feeling was that the project never quite garnered the recognition it deserved. Creatively, Dawson displayed his prowess and songwriting skill in abundance, and became one of the genre’s most promising rising stars. Now, three years on, we have the follow-up EP, ‘The Pink Slip’.
Moving on from the intriguing and rather mysterious theme of ‘Dark Horse’, Dawson offers a whole new perspective on ‘The Pink Slip’, with new colours and flavours present throughout. It’s a definite shift for the California native, and establishes a new chapter in his career with a distinct progression in his sound.
“I want to be honest and vulnerable and take the next step, because I always want to be creating music that’s fresh and different from anything I’ve released before,” Dawson explains. “There are definitely vibes on this EP that I wouldn’t peg for myself, but I like the unexpected nature of doing things that people don’t see coming. I’m always trying to reinvent the wheel, every single day. I will always be a dark horse, but I have come a long way from the person I was”
That’s blatantly clear right from the off, with opening track ‘Range Rover’. Bold, assertive and confident, this one is a tale about ‘Amanda’ the gold-digger, full of humour and a bombastic pop groove. Clearly intended to introduce Devin Dawson Chapter 2 in style, it packs a punch and stamps authority.
We listed ‘I Got A Truck’ as one of our Top Country Songs Of 2020 – it’s ace. This euphoric masterpiece is packed full of energy that builds throughout the track, and you can feel the personal nature of the song in Devin’s delivery. It explodes into a killer guitar solo towards the end, which is a real ‘moment’. We can’t wait to hear this one live – modern country music doesn’t get much better than this.
Then, we have the most out-there song of the bunch, production-wise. This is straight up, no-nonsense pop music, and it’s so damn infectious. It almost veers into Maroon 5 territory. Another affirmation of Dawson’s new-found self-assertion, it’s a very in-your-face expression of defiance and confidence. Definitely one of the EP’s slow-burners that grows more on you with every listen. The evolution of Dawson’s output continues with ‘Whatever Forever Is’, featuring another toe-tapping groove and some ethereal, digital production elements. It suits him to a tee; a top track that certainly has radio single potential.
‘He Loved Her’ is a really sweet track, and one of the big highlights of ‘The Pink Slip’. There’s a lovely innocence to it, and sums up the beauty of everyday life and the relationship we have with our elder relatives.
“It’s inspired by my grandfather, Jerry. My rock. It’s different from other songs I’ve written because it’s simple and to the point, which is sometimes hard for me to accomplish as a writer.”
A great easy-listening track that even features a funky bass solo, which encapsulates the experimental, no-fear attitude that Dawson brings to the table. A tender moment that is one of his finest offerings to date.
The caribbean/salsa vibes of ‘Who’s Gonna Hold Ya’ take you by surprise, completing the album with an uplifting drop of joy. This is such a far cry from the atmospheric, often dark elements of the debut record; it feels like a completely new, revitalised artist. And it works so well, too.
This feels like a side to Devin Dawson that listeners can truly connect with and embrace, and it’s an EP that will keep you coming back for more. There’s still an assurity and confidence here, just like there was on ‘Dark Horse’, but there’s a sonic shift in Devin Dawson’s sound which might well assist his mainstream aspirations.