Dorsey – The Long Goodbye
Record Label: None
Release Date: September 25, 2007
Dorsey are Arizona’s best kept secret. With their first release, The Long Goodbye, this band of young men barely out of their teens craft together elements of folk, rock, and pop with an expertise far beyond their ages would suggest. Though the labels may turn some listeners off, fans of The Format (who Dorsey fully embrace) should have no problems mixing genres and accepting vocalist John Rowland. He is instantly likeable on poppy tracks, especially “Fool for Believing”, and his talent is even more recognizable when he slows things down on “Strawberries and Peaches.” Guest contributor Jenn Horst also deserves credit for bolstering Rowland’s already impressive voice with her own background vocals on a select few tracks.
These songs have been thoroughly played out on my computer for weeks, and it would be easy to lapse into a detailed examination of what exactly makes each song special. For the sake of brevity, simply allow me to bring the focus to my latest love affair, the aforementioned “Strawberries and Peaches.” For such a lighthearted title, the song is so heavy. There’s a palpable denseness to the sound of it, starting with Rowland’s drawn out wailing and getting to the thick of it with guitarist Andy Othick’s toned down solo. This is one of the somber laments of the album, as it finds Rowland losing faith in his savior (‘The lord above will pick you up just to bring you down again’) and turning to anyone who can save him from his melancholy (‘Sweet devil take me home, I want to get back to my rose’).
Bands usually have a couple of albums under their belts before they attempt this amount of instrumental creativity. The trademark guitar, bass, and drums are all here, but they’re complimented by a diverse assortment of instruments, ranging from piano (used heartily) to organ. As “The Long Goodbye” slows to an interlude, saxophones and a clarinet sneak around the speakers before they take center stage and add a shot of life to the song. Horns are not something one would think of as a complete necessity, but it’s this kind of distinction and attention to detail that helps give each song on The Long Goodbye its own personality.
Now, imagery is not something I expect to come packaged with albums I listen to, but I’ll gladly accept it when it comes. A wonderful example of this grammatical tool is The Get Up Kid’s “Campfire Kansas”, a nostalgic journey with a sweeping paintbrush that creates a landscape of youth and innocence. Though Dorsey don’t particularly sound like the Kansas pioneers, the feeling of being in the hands of gifted storytellers is similar nonetheless. An upbeat track, “Heavens to Betsy”, recalls a memorable train ride, the perfect place to find new love and make a new path. And even with the lonely road wearing down on him, Rowland finds peace with strangers on “Follow Me.” It’s the perfect close to an album of more ups than downs, the story of camaraderie quickly established in the most unlikely places.
‘All these strangers have smiles on their faces / I’m not at home, but I don’t feel out of place / Anymore of this wandering is bound to set me back / I had better take a closer look at where I’m at.’
I write with the knowledge that not enough people will read this review, and The Long Goodbye will not receive the attention it deserves. Irrelevant; I stand fast in my resolve. Dorsey is something to write home about, and though they’re relative unknowns at the moment, their sound is set to spread across the landscape.