Dawes records drip with a comfortableness and easy feeling of a Jackson Browne or Crosby, Stills, and Nash record — no doubt lessons learned on the road opening for such acts as Browne, Alison Krauss, and Bob Dylan.
“I need a cold beer from a dressing room/I need a string of dates back out/I think there are a few of us/That still belong out on the road,” guitarist and vocalist Taylor Goldsmith sings on “From the Right Angle,” a catchy ditty pleading for a lover to stick around.
The Los Angeles-based band’s third studio album, Stories Don’t End, continues on the same path of its 1970s, Laurel Canyon-influenced predecessors, the punchier Nothing is Wrong (2011) and the subtle North Hills (2009).
The self-aware quartet aims to add some distance from the 1970s folk-rock comparisons that follow at every pass. The solution? Record 2,300 miles from home in Asheville, North Carolina, nestled between the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, with new producer Jacquire King.
The musical advances are slight even with a multiple Grammy-award winner (Kings of Leon and Buddy Guy) behind the mixing console. That’s not a bad thing, as the band still succumbs to the spell of sturdy guitar riffs supported by pianos, organs, and three-part harmonies.
On songs like “Hey Lover,” Goldsmith croons about pick-up trucks and raising a family. “Just Like My Luck” is a confessional beauty that expertly avoids any sentimentally. Robbie Robertson might even admire the guitar picking and subsequent solo on “From a Window Seat.”
The music frames itself around slice of life lyrics that Goldsmith unwinds during the album’s 12 songs. On the aforementioned “Hey Lover,” Goldsmith drops this gem: “But I want to raise with you and watch our younglings hatch/Fucking make the first letters of their first names match.” He takes a more urgent tone as he gently invites a potential amour to offer him a chance on “Someone Will.”
So, yes, Dawes plays too nice and works according to one playbook, but it’s a winning one. There’ll be time to explore the vast rock landscape next time around.
Dawes – Stories Don’t End Tracklist:
- “Just Beneath the Surface”
- “From a Window Seat”
- “Just My Luck”
- “Someone Will”
- “Most People”
- “Something in Common”
- “Hey Lover”
- “Bear Witness”
- “Stories Don’t End”
- “From The Right Angle”
- “Side Effects”
- “Just Beneath The Surface (Reprise)”