Dawes - Passwords

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:8 Release Date:2018-06-22
Dawes - Passwords
Dawes - Passwords

At some point in the 1970s, the big music companies, radio stations and PR agencies came up with the term AOR - adult oriented rock, lumping in practically anything that they considered suitable for ‘smooth’ radio-play. Dominated by the ‘California sound’, something that covered everything from The Eagles and Jackson Browne, to Michael McDonald's version of The Doobie Brothers, with ‘more daring’ excursions like The Band, Little Feat and ‘more melodic’ moods of Neil Young.

These days, nobody mentions AOR much, but the music from that era seems to be having some kind of resurrection. One of the names certainly responsible for that is California-based (where else?) band Dawes, nine years in, coming with their sixth offering, Passwords.

While some names dabbling in the genre, or to be more precise genres connected with the California sound, like Jonathan Wilson (who produced this album), particularly on his recent “Rare Birds” album are trying to breathe new life into the genre from the musical side, Dawes, are sticking to the refinement process, at least musically.

As one of their more recent photos which pictures them standing to something of a similar couch Crosby, Stills & Nash sat on, along with a typical 70s phone and lamp, musically Dawes stick to the sounds that California in the 70s stood for - mostly soft, refined rock, with just a touch of cracking guitars (here on the opener “Living In The Future”), The Band-like rootsy elements (closer “Time Flies Either Way”) and rare ventures into more contemporary musical elements (the excellent “Telescope”).

But if you are thinking retro copy and paste, forget it. Dawes has not only sussed all the musical elements on display perfectly and have a melodic sense to make it all sound fresh again. But where Dawes really live in the future, or should I say where they are contemporary is their lyrical content. Singer Taylor Goldsmith, whose voice is a kind of a cross between Richard Emanuel and Jackson Browne comes up with some perceptive views on current human existence, like on the quite exemplary “Crack The Case”. Maybe in that manner, Dawes bring true meaning to the term adult-oriented rock.

In the end, the thing with Dawes lies squarely whether these (what some would call) ‘old fashioned’ sounds are for you. You can certainly be sure what kind of audience they will attract as they are currently touring with Jeff Lynne’s ELO. Personally, as far as I’m concerned, I’m game.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars
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