When listening to Dawes, one thing stands out more than most: if you like Tom Petty and Jackson Browne, chances are you are going to enjoy Nothing Is Wrong. It is nearly impossible not to notice their influence in the sophomore release by this Los Angeles group.
When listening to Dawes, the listener picks up on other things. In terms of rock fundamentals, this band is really solid. Much like his predecessors, lead singer Taylor Goldsmith creates artful lyrics about women and lost opportunities. The band, including his brother Griffin, creates a solid structure of American rock around his vocals. It is as if they took the model from a Rock 101 class and emulated all the necessary pieces, complete with guitar solos and wailing keyboards. They even brought in Jackson Browne to sing backup vocals on “Fire Away.”
The problem with following the model is that one can get stuck not creating anything truly interesting. Dawes ends up being a lot like Petty and Browne, in that I get bored with them easily. Their fundamentals are good but there isn’t enough to hook me in. Like Petty and Browne, if one of their songs came on the radio I would turn it up. I would go to one of their concerts and be amazed by their performance. I just can’t listen to an entire album without my attention wandering other places.
I’d like to think this does not make me a bad person, nor unworthy of being able to write about music. We all have music genres that appeal to us; while rock appeals to me, certain angles do not. I can appreciate the form and the execution of the songs Dawes has recorded and put into Nothing Is Wrong. I love the storytelling in the song “Little Bit of Everything.” The dichotomy between the young man who wants to commit suicide over all the little things wrong in his life against the old man who has lost so much taking pleasure in the little things is articulated so beautifully in Goldsmith’s lyrics. It made we want to re-evaluate my opinion on the album and give it another go. But unfortunately…
When listening to Dawes, I hear a little bit of everything that make me want to put the record away and revisit it in a few years. Hopefully then I will appreciate the little things.