Dawes (photo by Dan Martensen)
All Your Favorite Bands
Since the 2009 release of Dawes’ debut album, North Hills, the Los Angeles band has established itself as one of California’s most preeminent rock ‘n’ roll exports. The quartet might be torchbearers of the classic Laurel Canyon music scene, but they have their own warm, inviting and very contemporary folk rock vibe, as they reaffirm on their mellow fourth album, All Your Favorite Bands.
Recorded in Nashville with producer David Rawlings, longtime partner of Gillian Welch (who also guests on the album), All Your Favorite Bands expands on Dawes’ most dependable qualities. Singer and guitarist Taylor Goldsmith’s songwriting skills have sharpened over the years: his strong melodies manage to be simultaneously new yet familiar, while his lyrics articulate easily relatable sentiments. Taylor and the balance of the band—drummer Griffin Goldsmith (Taylor’s brother), bassist Wylie Gelber and keyboardist Tay Strathairn—laid down the songs live in the studio and the result is a richly authentic reflection of Dawes’ chops, honed on the road.
The lyrics of lead track “Things Happen” acknowledge that sometimes in life, no matter how hard an individual tries to influence an outcome, some events just occur. After assessing a situation, the key might be to move on. It’s a simple sentiment, but it’s one that rings true. The title track, the heart of All Your Favorite Bands, is a goodwill tip of the cap to a departing lover and a song deftly infused with the spirit of Bob Dylan—not surprising since Dawes has toured with the enigmatic legend. “I hope that life without a chaperone is what you thought it’d be,” sings Goldsmith. “I hope your brother’s El Camino runs forever/I hope the world sees the same person that you’ve always been to me/And may all your favorite bands stay together.”
The breakup of a close relationship—and the emotions that follow in its aftermath—is the recurring theme of All Your Favorite Bands. “Don’t Send Me Away” is a simple plea to attempt to save the relationship, while “Waiting For Your Call” features a sense of slow desperation that is evident in lines like, “Even if you never will be coming back, I’ll be waiting for your call.”
“I Can’t Think About It Now," with backing vocals courtesy of the aforementioned Gillian Welch and Ann, Frieda and Regina McCrary (three-quarters of the McCrary Sisters), is a classic bit of ‘70s California rock with some nice guitar work courtesy of Taylor. “Right On Time” adds a bit of late punch to the album’s pace.
The final song, “Now That It’s Too Late, Maria,” is a bittersweet farewell to an old love that will never die. It’s an epic track, spreading out to nearly ten minutes, and it conjures up memories of Jackson Browne’s sprawling songs, like “Before The Deluge” or “The Pretender.”
On All Your Favorite Bands, Dawes doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel. Instead, they stay true to what they are and deliver a work that is sure to please this reliable and relaxed band’s huge legion of fans.
Preview songs and/or buy them (all purchases benefit WFUV):