Gabe Dixon : One Spark

On the cover of Gabe Dixon’s latest effort, One Spark, you’ll find him playfully perched upon a piano, dozens of dirty matches beneath his feet as he stares into the stars. It’s a carefully constructed image – and one that follows Dixon throughout his 12-track, soundtrack-and-radio-ready trek.

From the get-go, Dixon readies himself for the mainstream. “Strike” is a future college-kid favorite with its friendly rhythm and saccharine chorus. It’s a pattern that pervades several of his tracks: From the single “My Favorite” to the definitively Dave Matthews and Ben Folds-esque “Running on Fumes,” Dixon dives into his contemporaries’ bag of well-used and oft-successful tricks.

Yet, on the earnest and yearning “Perpetual Motion” and vulnerable “On a Day Just Like Today,” Dixon doles out his best, crafting two of his disc’s undeniable gems. The Alison Krauss-backed “Even the Rain” and James Walsh-assisted “I Can See You Shine” give Dixon the right mixes of polish and honesty, control and vulnerability. Indeed, Dixon is more than his image – and he excels when he remembers to forget it.

One Spark is out now on Fantasy Records.