Review: Dawes — Good Luck With Whatever

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Thursday, October 8th, 2020 at 10:04 AM
Review: Dawes — Good Luck With Whatever by Teddy Rankin

On Dawes’ newest album, “Good Luck With Whatever,” the band channels their touring experience into a live-sounding, introspective rock album. The driving electric guitar anthems will then translate well back to the stage (once concerts are safe again, of course). After a decade of touring, both as headliners and openers for legendary acts like Bob Dylan and ELO, Dawes leans into their strengths on this new release. 

The band emerged in 2009 with their debut album, “North Hills,” which received comparisons to fellow California rockers Warren Zevon and The Eagles. They have been prolific ever since, as “Good Luck With Whatever” is the band’s seventh full-length record over the course of 11 years. Dawes has evolved quite a bit as they matured, like veering into electro-funk on 2016’s “We’re All Gonna Die,” but their newest effort is a culmination of their journey. 

Searching for an authentic live sound, Dawes turned to Grammy winner Dave Cobb to produce this newest 9-track effort. The band — consisting of brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, Wylie Gelber and Lee Pardini — has built a strong chemistry that shines through here.

Dawes’ frontman, Taylor Goldsmith, and his wife, “This Is Us” mainstay and pop star Mandy Moore, recently announced they are expecting their first child. This prompted Goldsmith to write about getting older on songs like “Still Feel Like a Kid” and “Me Especially.” On the latter, he croons, “We’re not as young as we used to be / That goes for everyone, but me especially.”

Throughout the album, Goldsmith also sings about living in and coping with the age of technology. In the penultimate song, “Free As We Wanna Be,” he points out the control our devices have over us: “If I don’t look up from this mirror in my hands / I’m gonna miss what's on TV."

On “St. Augustine at Night,” Dawes strips down their Americana rock vibe to an acoustic ballad. The song paints a portrait of a young Florida native that envies the tourists. The story follows the narrator from childhood through adulthood and fatherhood. In the powerful bridge, Goldsmith sings, “The Lord must really love us common folk, ‘cause he made so god damn much.” 

I haven’t been shy about my admiration for this group because I truly believe their music is food for the soul. Goldsmith’s songwriting blends descriptive narratives with innovative, yet still classic-sounding melodies. Each member of Dawes contributes expert musicianship, and their love of making music is evident on “Good Luck With Whatever.” 

In Dawes’ own words, “May all your favorite bands stay together.”

Teddy Rankin is a staff writer for The Spectator. He can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

Tags: album review

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