Devin Dawson, one of the newest kids on the block, has proven to be quite an enigma. He hardly smiles for photos (a wry smile is given at best), uses a monochromic filter for all pictures, and had a little foray into metal music before venturing down to be a singer-songwriter in country music.
But, it is this very enigmatic character of the Orangevale California native, his songwriting flair and groovy country-pop debut single “All On Me” that has earned him the latest spot on the coveted “On The Verge” iHeartRadio program.
Why is this significant? Well, under this program, all Clear Channel radio stations are required to play the named song at least 150 times. With each station giving it the minimum required a number of spins (and sometimes, more), listeners get familiarized with the song sooner than later, and this is when things get exciting for new acts.
Greater familiarity brings greater exposure across most demographics, an increase in the number of sales per spin (because, hey, songs given this treatment are expected to be listener favorites) and really, just unprecedented success for these acts. Just look at how the careers of past “On The Verge” artists like Lauren Alaina (“Road Less Traveled“), Chris Janson (“Buy Me A Boat“), Carly Pearce (“Every Little Thing“), Maren Morris (“My Church“) and Michael Ray (“Kiss You In The Morning“) have propelled since. “All On Me” is currently #23 and climbing on the Mediabase Country Charts.
Tutorial over. Back to Devin Dawson and the song review proper.
Last week, Dawson announced the January 19 release of his debut record, “Dark Horse,” which followed with a digital release of the title track. Frankly speaking, this song is one of the most honest, truthful and unfiltered songs I have heard from a new act in a long, long time.
“People always ask why wear black, where I get my style and why I never smile in pictures.”
Right from the get-go in the first verse, the 28-year-old chooses to acknowledge and not shy away from the constant personal remarks and questions he faces about his style.
“No, I don’t go to church, can’t quote a bible verse, I couldn’t sing a song, but that don’t mean I don’t talk to Jesus.”
It’s words like this that really shines a light on the vulnerability in Dawson’s writing. In a format where Christianity and faith is intrinsically and almost always part of an artist’s songs and lives, it takes a whole lot of guts to bear his soul like that for the world to understand, critique or embrace.
What makes this song a cut above the rest is its autobiographical story, which indubitably showcases Dawson’s songwriting prowess. Dawson sings poignantly in the chorus as he lays down the facts of who he is and what his heart truly yearns for.
Country music is often described as a storytelling genre. And, acts are usually asked which song out of their entire collection best describes them in a nutshell. Well, I think the Dawson has just that song under his belt in his debut project. Because “Dark Horse” is pretty quintessential “Devin Dawson.”
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that there’s nothing conventional about Devin Dawson. But, it is his very distinctive qualities and knack for songwriting that will, perhaps, be giving Sam Hunt a run for his money as a strong genre crossover contender and soon-to-be chart-topper.