Dalton Dover - Take Me Home : Covers

UMG Nashville/Mercury Records


If this had been a full-length album release, rather than a measly 3-track EP, I would have been able to place TAKE ME HOME: Covers, alongside the classic tribute albums to Bob Wills, Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, that Merle Haggard recorded almost 60 years ago. Those releases came near the end of the Nashville Sound and the emergence of Countrypolitan, a heavily orchestrated sweetening of country music guided by the lavish productions of Billy Sherrill. Most young country music fans of the day had little or no inkling of the music of Wills, Rodgers or the Carters … why would they, it was another era from 40 years previously. Relative newcomer Dalton Dover, a small-town Georgia lad in his mid-twenties, has delved back more than 40 years to revive a trio of classic songs by John Denver, Alabama and Vince Gill. And like Haggard, he has made them his very own. In so doing, he could introduce many of today’s younger country music fans to a music that they quite possibly would never have heard. In much the same way that the legendary Merle Haggard did for country music fans of my generation. 

Covering someone else’s song isn’t necessarily an achievement. If it’s done consistently, it becomes either a pale excuse for a lack of original material, or a fallback position to keep an audience satisfied while biding time until one’s muse returns. On the other hand, taking a well-known tune and interpreting it in a way that’s original and unexpected can become a feat in itself, and indeed, a sign of skill and savvy. That is exactly what Dalton Dover achieves with his versions of Take Me Home Country Roads, Mountain Music and Go Rest High On That MountainIf you like a classic song that you’ve lived with for years, re-interpreted from a joyful singalong to one full of longing and wistfulness, sung and performed with a master's touch, then Dalton’s version of John Denver’s Take Me Home Country Roads, 1971 breakthrough hit, should be right up your alley. His heartfelt vocal is enhanced by aching steel guitar wafting away in the background whilst a simple, but effectively picked acoustic guitar carries the languid rhythm.

In contrast Mountain Music is a rip-roaring Alabama hit from 1982. An infectious epitome of the delights of living in Appalachia, it’s the perfect blend of country-rock and bluegrass with driving fiddle in the bridge and enthusiastic harmonies on the chorus. Dalton is clearly having a blast with every line and handclap, and that vibrancy shines through and brings the song to life for today’s generation. The third song, a soulful take on Vince Gill’s mournful Go Rest High On That Mountain, is a wonderful melding of a beautiful melody, sincere sentiment, and an articulate arrangement. To add to the immaculacy, Vince Gill joins in with his pure-toned high tenor on the chorus to raise the song even higher. So, credit to Dalton Dover and the session players, for conveying these songs with the authenticity and awareness that make for essential elements in this rootsy regimen. This is a textbook lesson in both credence and conviction. Please, can we have more of the same on this outstanding vocalist’s next full-length album.


February 2024