Vancouver Island Folk Singer-Songwriter Allen Dobb Returns To Music After Decade-Long Hiatus
By Stevie Connor.
After more than a decade long retreat from recording and performing, singer-songwriter Allen Dobb is returning with a new album scheduled for release February 9, 2024. “Alone Together” is a collection of ten new original songs drawn from characters, stories, and landscapes that are part of Dobb’s experience working as a range management specialist in the interior of British Columbia. The first single “All Costs”, also the first song written by Dobb in several years has been released. It charts the course of a rural couple coming to terms with their years spent together living on the land.
The new album was produced and mixed by brother and collaborator Cameron Dobb, with much of the recording being done during the pandemic at their respective studios.
“I never thought I would make an album that way” says Dobb, whose previous efforts were recorded mostly with musicians playing at the same time “live off-the-floor”, in spaces like the iconic Mushroom Studios in Vancouver. “Recording that way brings a certain energy, but I felt that at times my voice and the emotional arc of my songs got lost in the band setting. For “Alone Together”, I captured my performance the way I wanted to hear it first, and then we built on that. It was the right thing for the time, and the project brought me back to collaborate with my brother Cam. We understand each other ‘s feel, and that’s why it worked so well. We had many wonderful long conversations working through the process. Cam came with a real sensitivity for the songs, and a sympathetic approach to the production. He also performed a lot of the key musical parts on the record. I couldn’t have realized the vision without his amazing talent.“
The result is impressive. The ten-song recording has a warmth and authenticity that harkens back to some of the classic country sounds of the 1970s. At the same time, it has its own currency. Steeped in their own rural roots growing up on a farm in northwestern Alberta near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the brothers bring a depth and maturity to the songs and the production. Dobb’s narratives explore complexities of the heart on tracks like “All Costs”, “Here and Now” and “Alone Together” and look back at the country’s colonial past in songs like “Black and White 1912”, “Crooked River,” and “Frontier Justice.” The melodies are carried by acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, lap steel, piano and other instruments in tasteful arrangements that always create just the right sonic space for Dobb’s intimate and soulful vocal.
In his early years Dobb left the family farm to attend college in Wyoming and Washington State, finding time to play cowboy dances and participate in collegiate rodeo along the way. Undecided about his future, and ready for an adventure he signed up to do graduate studies in range management in Lesotho, Africa. Two years later he put grad school in the rear-view mirror and headed for Austin, Texas to check out the singer-songwriter and outlaw country scene, before moving to the old west town of Globe, Arizona.
After a couple years in the southwest, and releasing two independent singles in the Phoenix area, Dobb was drawn back to Lesotho to work on a range development project, and during his spare time helped local artists record demos on a small multi-track tape machine. He was tempted to stay in Africa, but eventually returned to Canada to form the roots/pop music group Dobb and Dumela. After six years of touring and performances at major festivals across the country he disbanded the group and went back to his solo country acoustic/roots, releasing three full length albums, and touring North America and the UK. With this fascinating journey under his belt, it should be no surprise that Allen Dobb comes back with such inspired songs of lived experience.
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