We all know that bands like Dawes are rare. There are a lot of bands and a lot of good bands that you can put on headphones, drown out the world and pay attention to the music and the way it moves you. There’s a whole genre, ambient, that’s defined by that attitude. While there’s some incredible music to be had there, I find myself drawn towards bands like Dawes. Bands and singers that have an ability to put honest, thoughtful poetry to music; bands that find a way to capture something in a song that the music and lyrics individually couldn’t hope to capture.
Taylor Goldsmith is a poet like we haven’t seen in this generation. Stories Don’t End, even on my 10th and 15th listen, is still revealing lines and messages that I missed the first few times. For example, this line struck me on my drive home tonight: “As if the world revealed its secret,/ And it’s asking me to keep it,/ Like a kid that hears the ocean in a shell.” There is so much more in that lyric that just the words. If you here that with the music, it takes on another meaning completely. It’s reminiscent of Bob Dylan, in the sense that I want to share a line from the song but realize that I can’t take it out of context. The issue is that the context is the entire song and the line with the whole song is meaningless.
The first single off of Stories Don’t End, “From a Window Seat”, is a song that has has a vintage feel, much like the entire band does. It’s a story about a man’s impressions from sitting in a plane and observing what happens around him. From the passengers to the landscapes below, he tries to solidify his thoughts into poetry. “And I find that the hero in this song that I am writing,/ Doesn’t know he’s just an image of myself./ But as much he resists the conversation,/ Between the rivers and the freeways,/ He’s somehow always asking them for help.” It’s introspective, universal, and brilliantly written.
“Someone Will” is a song about not missing opportunities, not having regrets, and making the most of every moment and conversation. “So I hope my voice can stay as clear as I need it to./ But that my words take on the nature of a drill,/ To be set against the frozen sea inside of you./ Because if I don’t tell you I’m falling in love,/ Someone will.” Couple that with one of the many spectacular bass lines on this album and its a song that’s greater as a whole that seems possible from looking at its parts. “Something in Common” is another song that seems like a personal call to action. It’s one that sounds a little less hopeful, a little more honest and a little more self-scathing. “That the man that stands in front of you,/ is not the sum of all his dreams,/ But I hope that they’ve got something in common.”
“Side Effects” is a song about love. It’s about the good and the bad of love, the missed opportunities and broken promises and the frustrations. “Now there’s a loophole in my theory, that I cannot figure out./ Cause if love is what they said it would be, then you’d be here with me now.” It’s a powerful song. The standout track on the album is “Most People”, a song that shows off the incredible eloquence of Goldsmith. With lines like “Like January Christmas lights under billion year old stars,/ She comes up with more of what is lost than what is found”, it’s hard not to wonder what a novel written by this man would read like. In what I can only assume will be the best lyric of the year, maybe decade, he belts the chorus,
And she thinks most people don’t talk enough about how lucky they are.
Most people don’t know what it takes for me to get through the day.
Most people don’t talk enough about the love in their hearts.
But she doesn’t know most people feel that same way.
With music that is timeless and lyrics that are beyond anything you could expect in music today, Dawes has done the nearly impossible and topped what was one of the best albums of the last few years, their last album Nothing is Wrong. As a poet and musician, Taylor Goldsmith and the guys have, with Stories Don’t End, created a masterpiece of music, one that deserves all of the attention it will undoubtedly receive.