Black Music Matters Festival

Dan Dugmore

Double D – 2003 (Double D)

Reviewed by Brad San Martin

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CDs by Dan Dugmore

Pedal steel master Dan Dugmore is a fixture on the Nashville session scene these days, a sublimely understated player who never indulges in flashy showmanship. Dugmore is a song man, brilliantly illuminating tunes and framing them with his luminescent playing.

This, shockingly enough, is his first solo record. A modestly-conceived affair, it consists entirely of Beatles covers rendered on steel with delicate acoustic guitar, bass and percussion backdrops. Played almost entirely straight with little filigree or embellishment, the album is as much a showcase for the songs as it is Dugmore's impeccable playing. His selections are mostly familiar nuggets (alas, he doesn't tackle "The Inner Light") and even the original guitar solos are rendered faithfully.

Despite the familiarity of it all, Dugmore triumphs through his achingly pure tone, ever-present good taste and the strength of the material at hand. Fellow steel players will marvel at his flawless intonation and voice-leading, while the average listeners will doubtlessly delight hearing these chestnuts in a noticeable different light. To Dugmore's credit, it sounds as though songs like "Fool on the Hill" and "I Will" were written with the mournful twang of the steel in mind.