woensdag 14 december 2016

We're All Gonna Die. Dawes

It's a truth as a cow, as we say in NL. There is only one certainty in life. On the moment a living creature is born it's a certainty that he or she will die. Some sooner some later. "That's a nice song", somewhat sardonically, my girlfriend commented when the title phrase came by in one of the songs. With my answer we're back where I just started this review with.

Dawes has playing in my cd player since a couple of weeks. Not for the first time. Its album 'Nothing Is Wrong' found itself there also in 2012 and into one of the very first posts on this blog. After that I lost track of the band, until this fall.

Don't expect an extremely enthusiastic review though. Don't run off either. Dawes gives me the same musical feeling like a band as The Eagles does. Like Crosby & Nash do. Californian music from the 70s. Near perfection but something is missing for me. Excepting the very, very best songs like 'Hotel California' of course. Dawes has that same inclination towards perfection that can take the life out of a song.

Having that off my chest I can take a listen to all behind that perfection. Like the title song. Dark, brooding in a sort of jazzy setting with the vocal delivered in a high voice. The song is empty, more mood then instruments. A lot happens in that silence, with all sorts of accents that fly in and out of my ears when listening on the headset. And all that from just a, rather robotic sounding, snare drum, in the centre of the mix. "It's not that big a deal. We are all gonna die". Yes, but this song will live forever.

We're All Gonna Die has a starlist of guests. Blake Mills, Erwin Zijleman's favourite record of 2014, and bandmember of the pre-Dawes band, Simon Sawes, produces and plays or sings on most of the tracks. Jim James, Brittany Howard, Will Oldham and the ladies of Lucius are all present here in a song. It says something on the status of Dawes, although the band is not that big. It is known and appreciated.

Singer Taylor Goldsmith has a voice that just fits west-coast rock. He could have played in any of the big bands of that era and would have fitted perfectly. His voice is sort of a giveaway. The music is just as thought out as the music then, but that doesn't mean that it's uninspired. 'Picture Of A Man', has a soulful organ, played by Lee Pardini and a hint at funk and calypso. The vocals by Lucius and Mandy Moore add to the relaxed atmosphere with a hint at tension hovering in the background.

Expect more of these surprises that take care of putting me at ease with We're All Gonna Die. It has all these well thought out elements that make the album interesting to listen to. 'Less Than Five Miles Away' is one of the best songs on this album. The build-up is flawless. The great bass part, played by Mills, drives this song, the acoustic guitar builds from it and then all these accents join and the tempo seems to go up, because of the instrumentation that is added, before it all goes down in volume again. This song is so smooth yet so surefire good in its execution that I am truly enthusiastic each time I'm hearing it.

'When The Tequila Runs Out' is a great title of course. And that just before I travel to Mexico for the first time soon*. (Don't like the stuff, so I don't care.) The rhythm spells the concern, although they're drinking champagne in the meantime it seems. Another song that testifies to the fact that Dawes is far from a one trick pony. The band has a few voices to tap into, without having to force itself. The Eagles look around the corner again strongly in this song.

So overlooking it all. We're All Gonna Die is a perfectly produced album. At times a bit too perfect to my taste, but with enough left to enjoy. It may be a good thing for the band to find a few percent more of an own voice. That may be the final step it needs to become more special. In the meantime I'm going to put the Dawes albums on again sometime soon.

Wo.

You can listen to 'We're All Gonna Die' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3_PMOwK3Zo

* Having returned, I can state that the running out part isn't likely any time soon. The staggering numbers of production in and around the village of Tequila will prevent it.

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