What do Richard Thompson, Steve Forbert, the Roches, and Lucinda Williams know that most Americans don't? They know about the brilliant singer/songwriter Julian Dawson, who has released numerous albums in Europe while experiencing an unfortunate lack of distribution in the U.S. Not only do they know about him, but they think enough of him to have been guest artists on those obscure European albums. Spark is a superb compilation that brings together 14 of his best songs, including "How Can I Sleep Without You" (an acoustic-based duet with Lucinda Williams), the rocking "Fragile as China" (which features E Street Band bassist Garry Tallent) and "Two Shots of Jealousy" (with Richard Thompson), and the whimsical "I Like Your Absence" (with the equally whimsical Roches on backing vocals). The songs and performances are of consistently top quality, muscular and solid and bright and poppy by turns. Dawson sings in an unaffected baritone voice that cuts through the mix but never draws attention to itself.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson