Friday, May 31, 2013

Dawes "From A Window Seat"

We saw Dawes at Newport Folk a couple of years ago.  I didn't get to see them close up, but they were playing in earshot of the mvy Command Center, where we were streaming the Festival live, and I thought they sounded really great.

Months later, when we got the single "Time Spent In Los Angeles," honestly, I thought it was a little boring sounding.  I chalked up the difference---between the concert and the recording---to the idea that maybe they were just one of those bands where seeing them live was the thing, and I wasn't going to be impressed by the record.

The second single was "A Little Bit Of Everything," and this single had more to sink your teeth into.  It still wasn't really anything (musically) that I hadn't heard before.  No new ground being broken.

But after several listens, I became impressed with this very unusual trick that songwriter Taylor Goldsmith is able to pull off.

He tells 3 stories, each about a person who has loss, trouble, doubts and hope.

No new ground being broken there.

Story about a jumper on a bridge?  It's been done.  Man who lost his son?  Newlyweds with questions?  Pretty standard stuff.

But here's what strikes me about the song.  Goldsmith manages to walk right up to a cliche, and then turn it around before it lands.  He doesn't do something as fancy as flip it on its head, or comment on it ironically.

Instead he simply states that these stories are much more complex that the cliches suggest, and that the existence of complexity in thought and daily life is a simple fact.

And this song and its stories, which seem like they could be a little pat, ring with a greater level of depth.

I was impressed with the trick.  But I didn't expect it to be repeated.

On first listen, Dawes' first single off their new record "Stories Don't End," to me, wreaked of a shortage of ideas.

A song about riding in an airplane?  And he even mentions taking about his notebook and writing a song?

And yet, after dozens of listens, I still find this song pretty intriguing, from the evocative images of the flight attendants' "dance" to the million swimming pools.

Again, he poses a number of existential questions, but doesn't do the cliche thing.

He doesn't try to answer them.

AND, he doesn't say these questions are in-answerable. 

Instead he seems to say that the answers are there, whether we choose to seek them or not.

By not putting his finger right on what he's getting at, he gives us something a little more elusive and real.

He's doing it, by not doing it.

It's a good trick.

Hear "From A Window Seat" on Youtube.

Hear "A Little Bit Of Everything" on Youtube.

Hear "Time Spent In Los Angeles" on Youtube.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed - he's doing it, alright. First class songwriter. Another one with the three-angle story is "So Well" where we see the old sailor, the young boy, and the lonely singer all given solace and assurance by the way the girl touches their lives. She tells them that "nothing is wrong" and while she says it, and while they receive comfort from the words, it is still very clear that plenty is still not okay. The tension is perfect. He's a master.