What a time to be alive. We’ve got a pandemic, police protests, a presidential election, and all kinds of anxiety-inducing happenings all about us. It’s easy to get hung up on it all, but sometimes you just gotta unplug and cut loose.
Enter Dawes and its new album, Good Luck with Whatever. Man, it’s a good one.
Over the course of nine tracks, frontman Taylor Goldsmith and the band tackle the personal and the current social climate, wedding it to an impactful heartland rock structure that keeps the whole affair moving along.
Oftentimes, Good Luck with Whatever channels the tightness, focus, and drive of Springsteen and the E Street Band circa The River. Those shades come through on the LP’s title track, which uses that sonic palette to great effect and dramatic tension while addressing the need to disengage from the constant low-grade anxiety and paranoia of modern life.
This theme of separating yourself from the surrounding chaos resurfaces on the rowdy rocker “None of my Business.” Whereas “Good Luck with Whatever” simmers with that barely concealed anxiety, “None of my Business” is playfully surrealistic in its narrative. Musically conjuring up echoes of “Pink Cadillac,” Goldsmith tells a tale of mistaken identity, oddball encounters, and conversations about Father John Misty and how people will view him when he’s dead, coming to the realization that when it comes to deciphering the thoughts and behaviors of others “it’s really none of my business, I should be minding my own.”
Goldsmith addresses his business on the boisterous album opener, “Still Feel Like a Kid.” It’s a rumination on contrasting the youthful vigor he feels as a touring musician and finds during everyday moments with the fact that he’s very much an adult living in the world. While it was written and recorded months ago, lyrics like “I’ve got dreams of coaching Little League baseball, but I still feel like a kid” take on a greater import and meaning with the recent announcement that Goldsmith and wife Mandy Moore are expecting their first child. The kid is growing up and doing grown-up stuff.
The shift in life priorities and maturation in the album opener is bookended by its closing track, “Me Especially.” The arena-ready rock ballad is an acknowledgement that the narcissism of youth eventually gives way, your self-perception changes and with that, your identity must change as well. On an album full of songs dedicated to making sense of yourself and your surroundings, it provides an eloquent, appropriate conclusion.