Good Luck With Whatever

Dawes

Hub/Concord, 2020

http://dawestheband.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/15/2020

Dawes’ previous and sixth album Passwords was a continuation of the band’s warm sound and relatable, low-key everyday sentiment, but it yielded a phenomenal single in “Feed the Fire.” The song gained airplay on alt-rock stations and certain store/restaurant playlists; perhaps that is a dubious distinction to some, but it was a song that you felt sure existed long before it did, thanks to its AOR/Fleetwood Mac-like sound and inward-gazing lyrics. It wasn’t only the best song on the album, it was one of the best songs of the last five years.

So it was inevitable that nothing on the new album would be that great, but that’s fine. The quartet goes to the same sonic well as on Passwords, a burnished, low-key yet hypnotic light-rock sound that sounds better on headphones. There’s an alt-country element, faintly, but far more of a folk/Americana sound. And to that end, Taylor Goldsmith’s lyrics remain keenly observational.

Although a bit slight, “Still Feel Like A Kid” is cheerfully funny, poking fun at all the comments we make as we transition into our 30s: “I can’t stay up past midnight anymore … There’s always part of me that’s a little sore … I got dreams of coaching Little League / But I still feel like a kid.” The background “da-da-da” vocals and swirling organ only enhance the mood, and when you can start an album with a smile, it’s a good sign.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The title cut takes a look at the little lies that people tell each other in a technology-obsessed society – someone who is going on vacation but stayed home, someone with a chainsaw trimming hedges who is trying too hard, those who pretend not to care about pictures of themselves, neighbors staring deep into their phones – and concludes that it’s no longer worth worrying about. You feel the need to lie? You have your own issues? Good luck with that. I have my own life to live. And maybe that’s the conceit of someone rushing into their 30s about to start a family, but it’s a relatable feeling when you reach a certain age.

“Who Do You Think You’re Talking To,” the first single, has a strong rootsy Springsteen vibe and lyrics about bringing baggage into a new relationship, and how we can project our issues with an ex onto a current relationship. “You haven’t touched your drink / And you haven’t stopped to think / If that holds you back for anyone who cares for you / Who do you think you’re talking to?” asks the narrator of his girlfriend. Again, relatable.

Both “St. Augustine At Night” and “Didn’t Fix Me” both zing with remarkable observational detail and gaze inward without ever being self-satisfied or depressing. Closer “Me Especially” is the most country-sounding song here, with slow piano, multitracked vocals and a plaintive electric guitar setting the mood. Goldsmith, in contrast to admitting his age and concerns on the rest of the album, finds space to set his thoughts aside for a while and, along with his beloved, act like they are young and in love for the first time again. It’s both the mature opposite and the logical end point for “Still Feel Like A Kid.”

Akin to someone like Jason Isbell, listening to the record is like having a beer or coffee with a good friend on his deck as the sun sets and the kids play in the backyard, the sort of sensitive yet cheerful, helpful friend who knows what he’s talking about, as opposed to the blowhard. There are no earworms as compelling as “Feed The Fire,” nor does the album require multiple listenings to absorb, but Good Luck is quietly resonant and ingratiating all the same.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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