Release Date: Oct 11, 2019
Record label: Weird World
One of the tenets of modern psychology is that, in order to build and maintain healthy human relationships, particularly between people of disparate backgrounds, one must experience empathy for the other. It seems obvious enough, and it's one of the reasons we value cinema and literature that portrays the experiences of the marginalized (i.e. Roma and On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous).
It's a hard time to be happy, and Richard Dawson knows it. The British guitarist and songwriter would hardly be the first artist to make music that reflects the chaos and uncertainty of a time when the world's political outlook has turned ugly and the divide between the haves and have-nots grows wider by the minute. Dawson's 2019 album 2020 is certainly a work of its time, reflecting the social, political, and economic uncertainty that has swept the globe.
2020 is the sixth album from the much lauded, eccentric songwriter. Strangely, I feel I can introduce the nature of Dawson by relating a brief text conversation I had with my father a couple of weeks ago. He texted me (he never texts me) to say simply that had I heard of Richard Dawson, and was he a genius? I replied that I had, and he might be. He then texted back this illuminating sentence, "I thought so, but I couldn't tell." This is genuinely useful in getting to grips with Dawson.
N ext month, Ken Loach releases his new film, Sorry We Missed You, about a Newcastle father with a zero-hours delivery job that turns him into a kind of automaton. It has the ideal companion piece in Fulfilment Centre, a relentless song from Newcastle singer-songwriter Richard Dawson, told from the perspective of a - distinctly Amazonian - warehouse worker slogging themselves to death as they pick out dash-cams and shaving foam. In fact, each of the songs here are Palme d'Or-worthy Loachian masterpieces, full of quiet tenacity on an island slowly turning sour.