Dawes are a four piece band from Los Angeles, in September 2011 the band released their acclaimed second album Nothing Is Wrong. Like a lot of artists today there is a strong sense of the past in their music but with a freshness that gives it a new dynamic. There seems to be a re-emergence of the Laurel Canyon sound from the late 60's early seventies and that sound permeates its way through the album. There is also a distinct nod to the organic approach of The Band, with the layered harmonies, the soulful expressive hammond organ playing and the restrained approach by Taylor Goldsmith on the guitar.
Where The Band had a more joyous and nostalgic whim, the Laurel Canyon sound was more stark and introspective as the darkness of the environment seeped into the music. The music was more about the tortures of the heart and soul and Dawes capture this same feeling on their album. On the opening track Time Spent In Los Angeles seems to reflect on a city that offers hope but often delivers tragic despair. Taylor Goldsmith sings about what an empty town L.A is on If I Wanted Someone and he needs someone to "make the days move easy", what a line! Coming back To A Man explores the complexities of young love and what it's like to come across a former love when you have moved beyond your adolescent years.
They return to the more upbeat and bounciness of The Band on How Far We've Come without losing that sense of introspection that works so well on the album. There is an interesting guest list on the album, the ubiquitous Benmont Tench is featured on three songs and his organ playing on Fire Away is so delicate and almost spiritual it's amazing. Jackson Browne also sings backing vocals on that track, you can hear his influence in a song that deals with heartbreak and separation. There is also a link between Dawes and The Band, Robbie Robertson is a huge fan of the group and had them supply backing vocals on his How To Become Clairvoyant album, he then asked them to back him on his only two live TV appearances to promote the album.
Dawes have just left these shores and I'm rather ashamed to say that I didn't catch them but I'm hopeful that with the reception they received here on their first visit, that another one will be forthcoming.