The last few years have seen Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn kick out an enviable catalog of works on his own Cosmic Range Records and 2020 shows no sign of flagging with the arrival of Rain, Rain, Rain. Dunn’s name might ring familiar with a few folks around here — he’s been a longtime MV&EE collaborator in addition to showing up on records from fellow Canadians U.S. Girls, James Matthew VII, and Jennifer Castle. Not to rest easy he also heads up RSTB faves Sacred Lamp, The Cosmic Range, and Stonegrass. While his sidework tends to toe heavily into the psychedelic, on his own works he’s cultivated a bar-beaten singer songwriter countenance that’s washed in last call whiskey and delivered with a heart-heavy sigh.
As with his impeccable run from the last few years, Dunn’s songwriting here is touched a slight echo of ‘70s Van Morrison and Open Road era of Donovan. He’s soaked his records in the honeyed AM air that infected folk rock with a taste of cosmic croon and country-tumbled tangents as ’72 tumbled off of the calendar. That feeling runs heavy as ever over Rain, Rain, Rain. “Cold Wind” sways with jukebox twang and a lover’s embrace that’s only deepened on “Chance.” “Last Goodbye” brings a touch of Southern Soul in the background vocals, feeling like the tape might have run through Muscle Shoals before making its way back across the border to mellow in the Northern sun. As he dips into the distance on closer “Listen To The Rain” he lets the fog overtake the album, fading guitar cries into the soft patter rising on the wind.
There’s been a long kinship with his collaborator James Matthew VII. The artists have often graced each other’s records and Matthew shows up here once more to add in a good dose of buttered slide and tremolo ache. While JMVII lifts into the shimmer of ozone in his own works, here the pair ground Dunn’s record in the feeling of long-paced pavement, late-night lamentations, and last looks over a town before its left behind for good. The mark of a true country-folk gem is how much ache it can hang on a heart, and in that regard, this one’s as gold as they come. With each new solo work Dunn’s building a reputation as a Northern troubadour that shouldn’t be missed.
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