Guitarist Ewan Dobson did not so much emerge from the house that Leo Kottke
, John Fahey
and Peter Lang built as construct his own wing and take command of it. Somewhere in that house, close to the Dobson wing, the spirit of Michael Hedges
lurks, speaking from his portrait, encouraging the walls to be more percussive in their guitar playing. The Canadian Dobson is the evolutionary manifestation of all virtuoso acoustic guitarists who came before him. Rightly, Paganini looms large in the mind of Dobson. He plays several Paganini-inspired pieces on Ewan Dobson III
, material amply capable of allowing the guitarists to demonstrate his chops.
It is not a chops-praising piece that illuminates Dobson's talent but rather a simple spiritual by a modern master, Leonard Cohen. "Hallelujah," sung lackadaisically by the composer, put the melancholy and doomed Jeff Buckley on the map. Dobson plays "Hallelujah" with a certain reverence that summons all of the history that went into composing the song. Dobson finds all of Cohen's weak spots, touching them with careful grace so not to wake the beast, but only to understand him. Dobson does the same with the traditional "Near My God to Thee." This is no mere novelty playing. It is meaningful and illusory.