Dawes Nothing is Wrong(ATO Records/Red) Buy it from Insound
Pretty much everything today is derivative - we just have to deal with it. So sure, you’re going to put on the new Dawes album and say, “golly, this sounds a lot like Jackson Browne and the whole Laurel Canyon bunch circa 1970-whatever”, and you’d be right. Well I don’t know about you, but I have something in my dna that responds to a well constructed song; I just can’t help it. My soul is at peace when I hear a verse and chorus that flow together and complement each other, and a clever melody and pleasant harmonies don’t hurt either. With meticulous attention to detail and slavish devotion to the SONG uber alles, this record hits me right in that sweet spot. I’ve heard it all before and so have you, but so what, just put it on, go about your business, and enjoy.
Dawes wears its influences right on its sleeve with the first song, Time Spent in Los Angeles, sporting a muted guitar strum lifted right from Warren Zevon’s Lawyers, Guns and Money (California, 1977), and a tremendously satisfying refrain, perfectly supported by a delightfully unresolved verse. It’s pop songwriting 101 and it works as it always has and always will. Nothing thrills like a one-two punch to open a record and Dawes repeats the trick on If I Wanted Someone, a darker but still tuneful offering. Inspiration comes and goes, but the craftsmanship never flags, so the album doesn’t have any glaring weak patches. In fact they deliver another double-whammy with the album’s highlight and its follow up, Fire Away and Moon in the Water, the former being a perfect, top-down, cruising up the Pacific Coast Highway, best gal by your side, the hardships of being a grown-up slightly reigning in a total surrender to reckless enthusiasm, summer song. The latter is just a damn pretty ballad. Zevon is invoked once again to close the album with the piano driven A Little Bit of Everything; there’s even a Wally Wachtel-esque slide guitar solo. Unfortunately, this only draws attention to one thing that is missing, and that’s Warren’s biting sense of humor. The lyrics can be playful, but they are rarely funny in the sense that they make you laugh, which is the only sense that counts, I think. The only other complaint you could really lodge is a lack of originality, as mentioned before, but as I said, this is nothing new or unique to Dawes.
Hey, what the hell, they wrote some good songs, and a few really, really good ones, so that scores points in my book. For that reason alone, I don’t hesitate to recommend this record to anybody. You may not love it, but you’ll probably like it, and that’s enough.21 July, 2011 - 15:58 — Alan Shulman