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Spirit Dancer – 2002 (Sony)

Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh

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CDs by BlackHawk

Now down to two original members following the death of co-founder Van Stephenson, BlackHawk has produced a more thoughtful disc that sounds like a retreat to the roots that made the band's debut outing so enjoyable. A little bit of the gloss of the last few releases is gone.

This time the raw basics are revelead which leaves the listener more opportunity to enjoy the messages, and that's what takes center stage here. The title cut is the centerpiece and a tribute to Stephenson, who died from cancer. Loss seems prevalent in many of the song themes.

"Brothers of the Southland" looks at some of the Southern rock stars who have passed on, and "Forgiveness" is about trying to save a relationship. What remains strong and typical of BlackHawk material is the tight harmonies. Henry Paul and Dave Robbins can still bend their voices with one another in a way that is distinctive and engaging. There are parts of "Spirit Dancer" that get a bit preachy, but it fails to spoil a spiritual and basic feel that makes this one of BlackHawk's best.