Spirit Dancer: The Spirit of Van!

By Rob Greenwell

Blackhawk, the trio of Henry Paul, Dave Robbins and Van Stephenson set the world on fire with their sounds and soulful harmonies. However, they suffered a huge setback when Van Stephenson was lost due to skin cancer a couple of years ago. Robbins and Paul, along with the musicians that made up Blackhawk, decided the only way to honor their fallen friend was to continue the legacy of Blackhawk, cutting another album then dedicating it to his memory. The title track of the album, "Spirit Dancer," is an ode to what Van meant to them.

This is still typical Blackhawk material. Henry Paul has a very solid and recognizable voice that is ascetically pleasing. Combined with the writing and harmony of Dave Robbins, it makes for a very good country album. The first release, "Days of America, a very thought provoking song about the human spirit in America was not a great success on radio, Perhaps because many people thought that this was an attempt at cashing in on a tragedy.

Robbins or Paul wrote nine of the eleven tracks on this album and should be commended for their style and content, which makes for a very complete album. This is not your typical pop country album; there is more heart and soul here, which is probably due to the soul-searching you do when you lose a close friend. The most interesting point is the two cuts that were not written by the guys will probably be the most successful at radio. I will put my personal stamp on "One Night In New Orleans," which has great partying feel. The CD flows very well, which is a direct testament to the way they felt about Van Stephenson: irreplaceable.

Email your thoughts and comments to rgreenwell@louisvillemusicnews.net.