Sept 2 2023
The eleven songs from Brooks Dixon’s Rhododendron Highway album paint the artist as a gentle soul. There’s a James Taylor-like quality to Dixon’s style. Many of these tracks are acoustic, and most all of them go down smoothly.
With that said, though, a few of these inclusions have a little more bite to them. For example, “Store Your Treasure” has a Biblical vibe running through its lyrics. With it, Dixon asks some hard questions about human values. He challenges wealthy people to take a hard look at what they deem most important. We all know we can’t ‘take it with us’ when we die, so what’s the point of accumulating a whole lot of ‘stuff’ that will only be left behind when we shed this mortal coil? The Biblical passage this song title is from, points out that ‘where your treasure is, is where your heart is.’ Those that only value material things, this song suggests, are really very shallow folks. Then with its minor key melody, “Hey Hey” finds Dixon expressing anger. On it, Dixon indicts people that speak righteously, but don’t behave well by hating brothers and his sisters. In other words, Dixon’s song is about the curse of human hypocrisy.
On a lighter note, one called “Rolling Stone” speaks to the pleasures and satisfactions of putting one’s roots down. “I’m not a rolling stone,” Dixon tells us. This song also features some nice steel guitar on it. Although Dixon is not exactly a rocker, his attitude is very much anti-rock and roll. Beginning with the blues and carrying on through to rock (and also a lot of country), restlessness was (and is) very much a part of the overall lifestyle. Perhaps this is due to constant touring. It’s not uncommon to find artists that are far more comfortable traveling around the country and the world than being at home. Home can seem strange and stressful to someone more used to hotel rooms, plane trips and the excitement of being in front of an audience. Dixon, though, comes off a bit like a homebody. He likes staying put in a place where he feels at home. It flies in the face of what we expect from our pop stars and makes Dixon a bit unique.
A love of nature is one of the big factors in Dixon loving his home. One of these tracks is called “Married in the Mountains,” and it’s exactly what you think it is; a song about getting married in the mountains. If you have beauty seemingly right outside your back door, why would you ever want to live the unending life of a rolling stone? Much like John Denver did so many years ago, Dixon has made love of his outdoor environment a big part of his overall artistic approach. In fact, this is the song where we hear Dixon sing the album’s title.
Sonically, there is plenty of acoustic guitar on this album. One imagines Brooks Dixon initially wrote these on an acoustic guitar, before incorporating the band dynamic on them. Yes, Brooks Dixon can get a little worked up now and again. We all do, at times. However, for the most part, he’s a man that has learned to love nature, his home and the music it inspires. He exists in (mostly) an especially peaceful state of mind.
Dan MacIntosh - Dan MacIntosh has been a professional music journalist for 30 years and his work has regularly appeared in many local and national publications, including Inland Empire Weekly, CCM, CMJ, Paste, Mean Street, Chord, HM, Christian Retailing, Amplifier, Inspirational Giftware, Stereo Subversion, Indie-Music, Soul–Audio, Roughstock.com, Country Standard Time and Spin.com.