Jean Dawson Shares Part One of Trilogy Series “XCAPE”

Kieran Kohorst

Even as one of music’s most dynamic voices of the new generation, Jean Dawson has a lot more to say and more than one way to deliver. His newest artistic venture sees Dawson tapping in to alter egos for varied perspectives and amplified emotions. First up is the character of Phoenix, described by Dawson as “a boy on the fringe.” Through this lens, he is able to meet the listener at their own depths, however deep or shallow that may be: “he is a product of the world rather than a product of perceived individuality. He is a manifestation of misunderstanding unawareness.” On the first track of the two shared in part one of the XCAPE trilogy, “youth+,” Dawson’s existence as a remote presence is palpable. His vocal presentation comes across as possessed, opening with the lyrics “I am nothing but a myth”; the emotional investment is distant but echoes, growing equally haunting and enchanting as the track plays.

Accompanying track “delusional world champion” leans even further into the Phoenix persona, revealing the commonalities between the alter ego and Dawson. Self-described by the artist to have “the tenacity of Kurt Cobain and the subversive subjectivity of a David Bowie,” Phoenix also boasts ideas that are “flirtatious, asymmetric and brash outwardly contradicted by his own lack of personal identity.” The last characteristic most relates Phoenix to Dawson in their lack of personal identity, a connotated criticism that in actuality serves as one of Dawson’s strengths. Artistically, he is incredibly fluid, performing for need rather than impulse. Dawson is able to adapt to stay true to a song’s concept, something more rigid artists are unable to accomplish. Ultimately, Dawson is not defined by his “lack of personal identity.” Instead he finds himself in each and every person who listens to his music, whether they hear him as Jean Dawson or one of his many alter egos. As Dawson says himself, “Phoenix is only as real as the listener listening.”

Following the massive success of his debut headlining U.S. tour last year which sold out in minutes, Dawson has announced a collection of new headlining dates for Fall 2023. The shows will run from September 24 in Santa Cruz, CA through October 22 in Las Vegas, NV. He will also be delivering electrifying performances at the beloved BottleRock Napa Valley and When We Were Young festivals. Tickets are available for purchase HERE.

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