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Dawes: Time Well Spent On The Road

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Downtime is hard to come by for a band as on the rise as Dawes. Since the release in June of their sophomore album, Nothing Is Wrong, the Southern California roots-rockers have maintained a relentless presence on the road, sharing bills with the likes of Alison Krauss & Union Station, Jackson Browne, and Bright Eyes, among others. The band is currently on a co-headlining tour with Blitzen Trapper, with upcoming dates scheduled through the end of the year.

The consistency with which they perform has not only helped the band to further hone its chops on the concert stage, but in the recording studio as well. In fact, Dawes had logged nearly two years of touring before recording Nothing Is Wrong, and as lead vocalist, guitarist, and principal songwriter Taylor Goldsmith recalls, the album couldn’t help but reflect that experience. “The songs were written based on our live shows, because we’d been playing so much when they were all written,” he says. “The whole thing was done right after a tour, right before another tour.”

With their earthy, laid-back mood and thoughtful lyrics, the songs have a homespun quality that harkens back to the early ‘70s singer/songwriter phenomenon concentrated in Laurel Canyon where, incidentally, the band — rounded out by Taylor’s brother Griffin Goldsmith (drums) along with Wylie Gelber (bass) and Tay Strathairn (keyboards) — today calls home.

Goldsmith writes the songs by himself on the acoustic guitar, including the harmony parts. “Then I bring it to the band,” he explains, “and we all kind of arrange, figure out the feel and the tempos and the dynamics, that sort of thing, all together.” From loose and jangly tracks like “Time Spent in Los Angeles” and “The Way You Laugh” to the brooding lament that is “So Well,” the collective effort paid off in a big way, culminating with one of the best albums of 2011.

And so if Dawes has to yet to hit its stride, it’s certainly on the right path. “Our ambition is to develop a real catalog,” Goldsmith says, looking ahead, “to be the kind of band — even if it’s not huge, world stardom or anything like that — that just has a log of material; to be able to say we have 15 to 20 albums worth of songs. Those are always the bands I fall in love with the most.”



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About Donald Gibson

Donald Gibson is the publisher of www.writeonmusic.com and a freelance music journalist whose byline has appeared in such publications as No Depression, Spinner, The Seattle Post Intelligencer, Cinema Sentries, Blinded by Sound, and Blogcritics, where he was the Senior Music Editor (2011-2012) and Assistant Music Editor (2008-2011). He has interviewed and profiled such artists as Tony Bennett, Lucinda Williams, Jakob Dylan, Allen Toussaint, Boz Scaggs, Johnny Marr, Charli XCX, Justin Hayward (The Moody Blues), Susanna Hoffs, Bruce Hornsby, Delbert McClinton, Jonny Lang, Alan Parsons, Bill Frisell, Rickie Lee Jones, Christina Perri, Don Felder (The Eagles), Jimmy Webb, Katie Melua, and Buddy Guy, among many others.
  • August West

    I just caught their show at Webster Hall in NYC. The two albums are terrific and the live show is even better. There was great energy in that room. These guys are thrilled to be living the dream with growing success.