Nothing is Wrong with Dawes’ Nothing is Wrong
My first listen to the new Dawes album Nothing Is Wrong must have been on a good day because it hooked me right away. I wasn’t bothered by any of the things that initially kept me from loving their debut album: chorus heavy songs, pitch-perfect harmonies, excellent but safe musicianship, and overly heartfelt lyrics. (Hey – it worked for the Jayhawks). All those characteristics are still there – things which could have remained negatives to me – but I’ve come to realize that these are the things that make Dawes’ music so endearing. It’s easy to wrap yourself in their carefully crafted song structures once you are confident that not a single lyric, note or solo is going to do you wrong. Nothing is Wrong is right! After time spent listening little details and nuances might start to emerge: that jammed out segment at the end of Fire Away jumps out at you in a way it never did before, for example, or some lyric in a song like So Well will really hits hard.
One of the things I like the most about the Dawes sound is that it exists outside the trappings of today’s indie rock. They pass for that overlooked band from 30 years that you’d heard was good but never got around to listening to. Some people like to compare them to Jackson Browne or Tom Petty. That may be true but I also hear a huge Dead influence in their music…both in vocal delivery – how they turn a phrase – and also how they construct a Jerry-like guitar solo, even in a ballad like My Way Back Home, and build it to a crescendo.
In a much cooler world, Dawes would be what you hear on easy-listening, light rock radio stations. I have now also revisited their 1st release North Hills and am starting to give in to its laid-back late 70’s California sunshine. There is no question that North Hills will age well, and now that we can put it up against the bolder, more fully-formed sophomore record Nothing Is Wrong, it’s worth speculating that that perhaps Dawes is no fluke but rather an increasingly important addition to the musical landscape.