Songs worth singing, stories worth telling on Dawes' new "Stories Don't End"
When you're playing new music and find yourself continually needing to crank up the volume to listen more closely, you know it must be good stuff. Such is the case with the southern California-based band Dawes latest release.
Their new "Stories Don't End" opens with "Just Beneath The Surface." It's clear from the get-go when it comes to strong songwriting skills, great harmonies and smart musicianship this is a band that merits paying attention to. A sort of "thinking person's" rock band, many songs by Dawes, including the opener on "Stories," are introspective or filled with daily observations about life.
The second track, their melodious "From a Window Seat," recounts time spent in contemplation on a flight to Los Angeles. What keeps it from becoming blue or morose are its fun, upbeat tempo, great chord progressions and spunky guitar riffs. All meld together nicely and the hit single comes across as light and uplifting with a sound not unlike 70's southern rock band Atlanta Rhythm Section.
It's plain these guys are serious musicians paying attention to musical detail and raising the bar for themselves. Keyboardist Tay Strathairn's piano interlude at the finish of "Just My Luck" is a musical balm that'll cure whatever ails you. Taylor Goldsmith's lead guitar work is filled with smart musical nuances that punctuate things oh-so-well. And if the musical flourishes and sweet guitar work on the C&W-ish "Someone Will" doesn't get you daydreaming about southern California, romantic relationships and margaritas, well, nothing will.
Someone Will (Bing Lounge)
Dawes' first 2009 release, "North Hills," received mostly positive reviews from the music world while their second "Nothing Is Wrong" saw the band developing an even more pronounced sound and style, spawning the hit single "Time Spent in Los Angeles." Then, as now, reviewers spent a lot of time comparing lead singer Taylor Goldsmith with Southern Californian rocker Jackson Browne.
Other fun facts: Dawes opened for Bob Dylan on his tour in April and recently collaborated with John Fogerty for his new album. Dawes worked with producer Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Norah Jones, Modest Mouse, Punch Brothers) for a month in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to create "Stories Don't End," and there's a video interview with King currently posted to their website. Lead singer Taylor Goldsmith cites The Band, John Prine and Creedence Clearwater Revival as early influences, and it shows.
If there's a theme to the new release it's one of reflecting on relationships and what, exactly, makes people tick.
Dawes are: Taylor Goldsmith (guitar and vocals), Griffin Goldsmith (drums), Wylie Gelber (bass) and Tay Strathairn (keyboards). Drummer Griffin is Taylor's younger brother, by the way, and there's tight drumming throughout the album.
The magical, musical richness of the 5-minute title track call to mind songmeister James Mercer's (The Shins) talents. Superlative guitar/keyboard jams on "Side Effects" pack a punch, while the great choruses and guitar riffs on "Most People" and playful "Hey Lover" make both of them hit-single worthy.
These 12 easy-to-like tracks are knit together with hearty folk-rock touches, great vocals and smart guitar work. In short, Dawes' new release is Americana as it gets and as solid as they come. For lovers of those who play their instruments well, and artfully.
Dawes newest "Stories Don't End" release closes out where it started: with a lighter, more pensive reprise of "Just Beneath the Surface," its opener. That might not exactly qualify it as a "concept album," but hey, there's not a single throwaway track here, and that, my friends, is a story worth telling.
Just Beneath the Surface:
Hear them live
Dawes is currently on tour promoting the new release. Upcoming appearances include Chicago July 8th, Minneapolis July 10 and 12, a sold-out show in London on the 17th, San Francisco in August, Nashville in September, and Austin in October. More tour info here: http://dawestheband.com/tour/
Listen to their music on their website http://dawestheband.com/ or check them out on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/stories-dont-end/id597958001
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