Dawes (photo by Matt Jacoby, PR)
The sixth studio album from Los Angeles-based darlings Dawes, called Passwords, is a marvelously mature work. Passwords arrives less than two full years after 2016’s We’re All Gonna Die. (Last year, the band issued the live album, We’re All Gonna Live.)
At the heart of Dawes are their three original members – lead singer, guitarist, and main songwriter Taylor Goldsmith and his brother, drummer Griffin Goldsmith, plus bassist Wylie Gelber. Returning for his second album with the band is keyboardist Lee Pardini. Over the past nine years, Dawes has worked with a variety of producers like David Rawlings, Jacquire King, and most recently, former Simon Dawes member Blake Mills who produced We’re All Gonna Die. But for Passwords, Dawes has reunited with Jonathan Wilson, who had produced the band’s first two albums, 2009’s North Hills and 2011’s Nothing Is Wrong.
On the whole, Taylor Goldsmith has written (or co-written on three tracks) an album of thoughtful songs that deal with living in the current age. He addresses outside influences where technology has infiltrated almost every aspect of American life, notably in “Living In The Future,” a grand statement that opens Passwords, powered by big, crunchy guitars and soaring keyboards. Concurrently, Goldsmith has personal matters to share, and he reflects on a loving relationship (he's engaged to actress Mandy Moore) in various songs: the heartfelt “I Can’t Love,” the relaxed “My Greatest Invention,” the ballad “Never Gonna Say Goodbye,” and the poignant “Time Flies Either Way.” Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, both from Lucius, join Dawes on “Mistakes We Should Have Made.”
For fans drawn to Dawes for the band's ability to create songs that hark back to the Seventies and Eighties, “Feed The Fire” is a treasure chest filled with Bruce Hornsby and the Range and Dire Straits vibes, especially with its use of keyboards, drum machines, and strings. The mystical “Telescope” wanders through a similar terrain, recalling aspects of the Alan Parsons Project and the Police, circa the Synchronicity era. Both selections are time capsules, rich with warmly familiar moods.
On Passwords, Dawes embraces the maturity that comes with time, observation, and experience. For Taylor Goldsmith, the world outside and the inner spirit demand a renewed focus and attention, expressed eloquently in his songs, as youthful frivolity slips to the background. Dawes are like a musical mirror, reflecting back the image of anyone who happens to be listening.
Listen to a brand new FUV Live session with Dawes on Thursday, June 28 at 8 p.m. EDT, and anytime in our online Vault.