DAVE STEWART (or at least his record company) is frequently at pains to note that he's not that Dave Stewart -- the one from Eurythmics, that is -- but this Dave Stewart's big idea is a lot like that Dave Stewart's. Both are synth-player/producers teamed with clear-voiced female singers.
This Stewart/Barbara Gaskin team produces music that's a little more folky and a little less dancey than the Stewart/Annie Lennox team. Where the latter tends toward crisp, contemporary electropop, the former covers Billy Bragg (a pleasant version of "Levis Stubbs' Tears" that stirs in a bit of "Reach Out I'll Be There") and Bob Dylan (a hokey, hip-hoppy "Subterranean Homesick Blues") on their latest album, "The Big Idea." The Stewart originals that fill out the album are agreeable, if often weighed down by sprawling mid-tempo arrangements (seven of the 10 tracks are over five minutes long).
Several of these songs express Stewart's idea that Britain is a dismal place where "hopes are drowning" ("New Jerusalem") and "the sun will never shine" ("Grey Skies"). The tuneful but mostly low-key "Big Idea," however, sounds like ideal gray-skies listening.
DAVE STEWART AND BARBARA GASKIN -- "The Big Idea" (Rykodisc). Appearing Saturday at the Bayou.