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.”