Under Review: Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong

When new singer-songwriters emerge with a fully-developed style and voice, it can be both refreshing and a little disconcerting. In the case of Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith, his classic folk-rock influences shone through his weary-yet-endearing stories. That said, it seemed like there was no conceivable place for Taylor to go after Dawes’ debut album, North Hills. While preparing for a follow-up, Goldsmith teamed up with some of his rootsy peers to form Middle Brother, which offered Goldsmith the opportunity to purge some of his more lovelorn musical themes. As Dawes spent the better part of last year on the road, Nothing Is Wrong finds Goldsmith doing even more self-searching. Kept away from commitments to family and friends while holed up in hotels and tour buses, Goldsmith has developed an even stronger grasp of how melody and emotion can most effectively intertwine.

If Nothing Is Wrong serves as Dawes’ audio tour diary, then opening track “Time Spent In Los Angeles” is its entry on setting course. The song quickly establishes the band’s strengths for anyone who might just be coming to their music. Ballads are Goldsmith’s strength, and a new version of Middle Brother highlight “Million Dollar Bill” provides one of the album’s most tender explorations of lost love. Taylor’s is not the only voice heard on Nothing Is Wrong; Taylor sings with drummer (and brother) Griffin on “How Far We’ve Come,” and Jackson Browne guests on the truly exhilarating “Fire Away.” Dawes are, for the most part, a rock band, but they never get too over the top. This restraint occasionally holds them back from being explosive, something that they definitely show potential to be. Goldsmith is unquestionably great at writing and playing the songs he creates, and the way in which Dawes come alive as a band remains a thrill to witness.

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~ by E. on June 29, 2011.

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