Both Gabe Dixon and Norah Jones played the first Bonnaroo festival in 2003 as up and coming piano slingers. Jones went on to the Grammys and mega stardom, while Dixon was offered a slot in Paul McCartney’s live band, which he courageously declined. And while its easy to compare Dixon’s work to almost any male piano rocker, the Tennessean has more in common with the soulful splendor of Paul Simon and Jackson Browne than Ben Folds’ punkish anthems.
Although Dixon’s piano/improvisational chops have been known for stretching it out a tad far (2002’s On A Rolling Ball), this self titled release by The Gabe Dixon Band shines in the leader’s concise songwriting and spirited harmonies. Bandmates Winston Harrison (bass) and Jano Rix (drums) provide a session element that gives the songs a polished gleam.
Dixon’s hopeful melodies shine on the grand first person narrative “Five More Hours,” while Mindy Smith lends guest vocals to the wistful “Further The Sky.” “Find My Way,” stirs up about as much rock urgency as you’ll hear on the disc (not a lot), while “Till You’re Gone” is pure Elton John Tumbleweed Connection Americana. Dixon mixes in the expected orchestral elements on the mushy "Ever After You," and brings home the vulnerable factor on the trickling "And The World Turned.’ The Gabe Dixon Band clearly lacks a rock edge for most, but for many, that wholesome 70’s piano pop sure feels good on the ears, guilty pleasure or not.