Dawes: Passwords (HUB) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Jul 06, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

On their sixth studio album, Laurel Canyon’s Dawes takes a bold step back from the roots rock tradition of their past albums, and instead opts for mellower melodies and contented lyrics. The four-piece, fronted by singer/songwriter Taylor Goldsmith, has carved out a unique niche of heartfelt rock songs that seek to return to the ‘60s Americana storytelling of Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne. Their latest record, Passwords, maintains a common thread of songwriting confidence that was more or less undiscovered on their previous hit albums, (check out 2011’s instant classic Nothing Is Wrong). This, as well as the continuously specific lyrics delivered by Goldsmith about all manner of subjects, from finding privacy in our new digital age to newfound love (Goldsmith announced his engagement to actress Mandy Moore last year), proves that the group have found a sweet spot. It’s clear that this is a new Dawesperhaps a little more domesticwith more time to think about the Internet and the ebbs and flows of a romantic relationship. Although largely optimistic, Passwords still displays most of that intellectual provocation found on some of their classic work. In fact, their new record builds on these same concepts of isolation and love, but with a newly calibrated lens.

Just take the line, “I wanna sit with my enemies and say, ‘We should have done this sooner,’ while I look them in the face; maybe that will crack the case,” which Goldsmith delivers over steady instrumentation. Perhaps rather ironically, Passwords is surprisingly articulate. While most songs deal with breakdowns in communication (like the song just above, “Crack the Case”), two opposing sides struggling to understand each other, the lyrical content on these tracks is as sharp as ever.

Goldsmith doesn’t hide behind his words, nor does he choose to hide behind his music. Even groovier songs showcase a more refined sensibility, such as “Feed the Fire” and “Telescope,” which both feature shifts in perspective and very American salt-of-the-earth stories (and bedroom posters, for some reason). Together, the songs on Passwords stand as a sprightly collection for Dawes; as standalone numbers, these tracks prove the group’s songwriting sharpness and eye for valuable, albeit mercurial, metaphors. (www.dawestheband.com)


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