Named after a river in the northern region of the state of Georgia,
Conasauga is an album of anti-mood music that plays like a gloomy mural painted over the nonvirginal canvas of tainted wilderness. There isn't a hot amplifier in the house as Kyle Dawkins, with only his acoustic guitar and banjo, weaves a soundtrack of earthly musings, eight vignettes long (two with the help of three other guitarists), that is equal parts down-home, Appalachian roots-guitar music, and Spanish guitar. Classically-trained, the Athens resident sends his finger-picked notes surging forth in a cascading fashion on "Conasauga," your personal guided tour around bend after riverbend, and whatever floats down that watercourse.
The banjo's plucky, fleeting tone bestows the freedom of a "Kite," then assumes a somber cast alongside guest banjoist Brian Smith's parallel lines on "A Quiet Strand." The urgency of a frightened child who has sighted the "Water Witch" is the best example of aural storytelling, as the loose, melodic picking becomes mesmeric. "Left, In A Room" is a great 6-˝-minute piece — perhaps the best — that runs like a mini-suite and arcs between several moods, including a few scant segments that even sound quasi-funky. The guitars reach their textural zenith when Dawkins is rejoined on "Flight" by Smith and two more guitarists, Jason Solomon and Philip Snyder. The mournfulness, the sobriety, the enchantment…every emotion a guitar string can conjure is there. Conasauga is the new weapon that will convert the needlessly wary — his isn't music to drink your Sunday morning coffee by.