By Caleb Stanislaw: Rock / Alt-Rock Review
I’ve known Caleb “Tennessee” Dixon for some time, and I’ve always enjoyed his rootsy sound. Steeped in tradition, Tennessee Dixon pens thoughtful, soulful tunes that are down-home and genuine. Vocally, his delivery reminds me of depression-era country singers like Woody Guthrie and Jimmie Rodgers—occasionally his voice cracks pleasingly, tipping a hat to that heyday time of yodeling cowboy songs. Dixon lures you in closer to the campfire, lulled by the slow, methodical pulling of each rough narrative thread.
If songs are threads, then Dream up Over Yonder is the comfortable patchwork quilt grandad used to fall asleep with in his chair. This record embodies a stark southern feel. Held together with biscuit batter and washed down with a big glass of sweet tea, Dream up Over Yonder invites you in and urges you to get comfortable.
Never awkward, you sit and listen a minute and dangit, you like it. The first track, “I’m Coming to Take Her Home” invites you in with its Sunday gospel feel. The organ here sets a tone: these tunes are meditations on the simple things of life.
Each song seems to have been born and honed on a front porch. The only thing missing is someone playing the jug. The penultimate track “Honey, Won’t You Take Me Back” is perhaps the most upbeat song on the album. The classic trope of “rambling so long” doesn’t feel worn; Dixon makes it his own, and the listener can’t help but hope that he doesn’t make it home too soon.
For me, the most poignant moments came when I heard Luke McGlathery chiming in on harmony vocals. From a production standpoint, the harmonies are a smart choice that lends gravity and feeling to Dixon’s already heartfelt delivery. Context is everything, and given Luke’s recent challenges, these tunes pull at my heartstrings. Luke has a knack for sweetening what is already sweet, and here he makes good musical moments great.
Tennessee Dixon is a strong songwriter and he has cultivated a unique vocal style. But this record seems also to be a joint effort—Dixon has let the right musicians in close, and the songs are served well. Like one of Dixon’s characters, “I’m blinded by the gold and the fool in my soul,” but I know what I like, and I like Tennessee Dixon.
Checkout Tennessee Dixon’s Dream Up Over Yonder at https://tndixon.bandcamp.com/album/dream-up-over-yonder