With “Jawbreaker!” Dawn Tyler Watson delivers a powerhouse performance in this, her first solo album since 2001. This album is my first exposure to her fabulous, genre-crossing singing – color me impressed. We cranked this up on our recent drive home from Ontario, and both M and I were tapping fingers and toes before the first track ended.
The two opening tracks, “Can’t Nobody” and “Shine On,” both carry a definite gospel flavor, and “Just a Little Bit More” delivers a slow burn that’s somewhere between blues and a good old-fashioned torch song. However, things really get rolling with “Son of a Gun,” a truly rollicking piano-driven tune that is bound to get you out of your chair (unless you’re in a car, of course, as we were). Listen in particular for the dueling guitars of Paul Deslauriers and Ben Racine, as if Watson’s powerful singing and John Sadowy’s skillful piano aren’t enough to blow the listener’s ears away.
“Tootsie Roll Blues” opens with the unmistakable tones of an upright bass, with Watson’s vocals smoothly sliding in. This track blurs the lines between jazz and blues so beautifully – the upright bass and piano put me in mind of the smoky Kansas City bar where I first heard live jazz, and Guy Belanger’s harmonica offers a tang of blues. “Rotten” and “Greenbacks,” meanwhile, both possess a definite big band flair.
Every song on this album provides a terrific showcase for Watson’s talent. She transitions between musical styles so effortlessly, sounding equally at home in jazz, blues, R&B, gospel, and rock. She’s backed by an equally gifted group of musicians, including Paul Deslauriers (with whom she has previously recorded two duet albums), Guy Belanger, and several others. If you are looking for a singer with a powerhouse talent and songs to match, give “Jawbreaker!” a listen – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.