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Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong Album Cover

Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong

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9.0
Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Record Label: ATO Records
Dawes: Friendly, mellow and easy to root for. See also: The next big thing in folk rock. I can sit behind my laptop and audaciously pat their backs because, quite frankly, they’ve earned it. North Hills was an impressive piece of work in its own right, but as far as career logistics are go, it was the attention-grabber, the fish bait. Nothing Is Wrong is their chance to prove they belong in the limelight – or show why their rise to fame is premature. If you’re in no mood to read the rest of this review, here’s the verdict: Dawes knock it out of the park. On Nothing Is Wrong, they touch down, amidst anguish, nostalgia and mid-tempo roots struts, with a timeless charm.

“Time Spent in Los Angeles” kickstarts the album with a few sour chords that eventually ease into shimmering keys. It’s a flagship song, but it hardly hurts the flow by showing up so early. Frontman Taylor Goldsmith sounds sullen here, at times invoking spry images with his lyrics (“It’s something written in the headlights, it’s something swimming in my drink”). But most of the time, he’s straightforward as can be: “You got that special kind of sadness, you got that special kind of charm, that only comes from time spent in Los Angeles, makes me wanna wrap you in my arms.” He’s emo, in a grown-up way.

“Million Dollar Bill” unfurls four minutes of Tumblr-ready, ex-lover-induced yearning. One segment has Goldsmith lamenting about how someday he’ll run for president and get his face on the million dollar bill, so that when “these rich men that she wants show her ways they can take care of her, I’ll have found a way to be there with her still.” Sappy, yes, but also endearing and elegant. Like with every other song on the album, it’s stirring the way the words are sung. You can taste Goldsmith’s grief: Here in particular, he sounds like he’s staring off into space with a blank look in his eyes.

Don’t worry if you’re at a brighter spot in life and can’t relate to the deep sighs that permeate most of the album: If you can so much as appreciate folk music, you can understand Nothing Is Wrong. That’s because musically, it’s gloriously penned (case in point: Dawes have caught the attention of everyone from M. Ward to country legend Alison Krauss. Hell, Jackson Browne himself does back-up vocals on “Fire Away”). There’s a simple, ageless beauty to each unique rhythm, dual vocal line or carving riff – whether it’s the moment the percussion enters in the opening seconds of “The Way You Laugh,” the forlorn “I am condemned to facts alone” howls in “My Way Back Home” or the blistering solo in “If I Wanted Someone” (which, by the way, is pure fire). Even “A Little Bit of Everything,” which wouldn’t feel out of place on the True Grit soundtrack because its pianos sound so pleasantly skinny, eventually turns into a guitar-flaring heart-tugger.

In many ways, my favorite track is “Moon in the Water.” It’s not the closing song, but it sums up the album nicely. There’s reference to experiencing a lover through surroundings (“I can feel you in the heat, I can taste you in the air”), which Goldsmith seems to love doing, and the melody is folk-simple: In other words, what the album does through 11 different variations. Musically, it’s hardly avant-garde. But when the vocals climb harmonic inversions on the line “I hoped my loneliness found peace,” it hits an otherworldliness few current bands are achieving. It’s doing more with less, on a level that simply demands attention. That, ladies and gentlemen, just might make Dawes something you’ll pass on to your children.

Recommended If You LikeCrosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, Neil Young
Track list1. Time Spent in Los Angeles
2. If I Wanted Someone
3. My Way Back Home
4. Coming Back to a Man
5. So Well
6. How Far We've Come
7. Fire Away
8. Moon in the Water
9. Million Dollar Bill
10. The Way You Laugh
11. A Little Bit of Everything

Find Dawes on facebook.
This review is a user submitted review from Matthew Tsai. You can see all of Matthew Tsai's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 18
11:34 PM on 07/01/11
#2
Lueda Alia
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10:09 AM on 07/02/11
#3
njsuccessstory
The '59 Sound
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Great band. Sweet review.
10:26 AM on 07/02/11
#4
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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Band effing rules. Album effing rules. They are on a pedestal all by themselves.
01:53 PM on 07/02/11
#5
Spartan789013
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Great band, great album. I loved seeing them at Newport Folk Festival last year.
07:02 PM on 07/02/11
#6
drevans18
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Used to see them when they were the local band Simon Dawes. They used to be great, and now they're truly amazing.
07:49 AM on 07/04/11
#7
Alex DiVincenzo
www.alexislegend.com
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That RIYL is all the encouragement I need to check 'em out.
09:13 AM on 07/04/11
#8
FeynmanWannabe
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Not bad, but album is a bit too muted for my compared to their live show.
09:41 AM on 07/04/11
#9
meroki22
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Not mad, but album is a bit too muted for my compared to their live show.
I feel the same way. They have such an intense live show and although the album is great it doesn't translate here.
10:07 AM on 07/04/11
Matthew Tsai
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Not bad, but album is a bit too muted for my compared to their live show.

I feel the same way. They have such an intense live show and although the album is great it doesn't translate here.

Yeah, this album is toned down several notches compared to what they do live. I think it really brings out Taylor's emotions though. Kinda showcases a different side of them.
10:07 AM on 07/04/11
thesollopsist
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Debut album is amazing. Can't wait to check this out.
10:18 AM on 07/04/11
FeynmanWannabe
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Yeah, this album is toned down several notches compared to what they do live. I think it really brings out Taylor's emotions though. Kinda showcases a different side of them.
I understand what you're saying but I suppose my preference lies elsewhere. I played the album for the second time the other day and was discussing it with my girlfriend who was the person that dragged me to the show a few weeks ago (dragged because I was dead tired not because i was uninterested). I liked the way she put it, saying she missed Taylor's slight gruffness/grit, describing Taylor as more of a reluctant romantic than a crooner. That aspect doesn't really come across on this album. Gotta so though, I love the sound of his solos live. They really do come out of his guitar so naturally live.

edit: good review btw, always appreciate reviews of bands I like
10:26 AM on 07/04/11
Matthew Tsai
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I understand what you're saying but I suppose my preference lies elsewhere. I played the album for the second time the other day and was discussing it with my girlfriend who was the person that dragged me to the show a few weeks ago (dragged because I was dead tired not because i was uninterested). I liked the way she put it, saying she missed Taylor's slight gruffness/grit, describing Taylor as more of a reluctant romantic than a crooner. That aspect doesn't really come across on this album. Gotta so though, I love the sound of his solos live. They really do come out of his guitar so naturally live.

edit: good review btw, always appreciate reviews of bands I like
Definitely see where you're coming from. I guess I approached this more as a typical folk album more so than an album by Dawes, so I found it really, really good in that respect. That might be because I haven't seen them play in a while though. Different strokes for different folks I guess. Thanks for the kind words about the review!
12:51 PM on 07/04/11
evanmeindl
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Saw this band open up for Bright Eyes last month, they were awesome
12:52 PM on 07/04/11
Rodeo
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This album is absolutely perfect. My band had the extreme pleasure of opening up for Dawes and Langhorne Slim, just as North Hills was coming out. Watching their rise and evolutions has been truly great! The sky is the limit for these guys. Their music will go down as some of the most important of the decade, along with The Gaslight Anthem, etc....

Also, great review, sir.

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