It might not have come up in conversation with every person I’ve ever met, but I feel fairly confident when I assume that at least 96% of people I’ve met in my life have at least heard of Bob Dylan, at least. For a new band to be touring with Bob Dylan, then, must be a pretty big testament to that band’s credentials. Dawes, a band who has only been active since 2009, is celebrating its newest release by touring with Bob Dylan. Color me impressed.
Stories Don’t End is the third studio album of the once-LA based group. Having produced their previous records in the southern California musical hub, Dawes shipped themselves eastward to Asheville, North Carolina to work with producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Modest Mouse, Punch Brothers). The physical move marked a similar move in Dawes’ music. In Stories Don’t End, Dawes has definitely progressed from the 1970s rock vibe that they had come to be known for and, impressively, it was a seamless and linear transition.
In Stories Don’t End we hear the retro Dawes that we knew of previous albums, but also hear them join us in 21st Century. It’s a well-produced album that screams of easy-listening if easy-listening didn’t have such a negative connotation – but it’s simply that. It’s easy to listen to. There’s nothing necessarily jarring or shocking about Stories Don’t End, but it relentlessly brings about a smile and desire for an open sky and an equally open road.
Yes, that open road image might have just been conjured lyrically from one of the album’s highlight songs, “From a Window Seat,” but it’s entirely befitting of the Dawes’ new(ish) sound. “From a Window Seat” exemplifies everything that’s progressive about this new album – in it, as within the whole album, each instrument seems to bring its own distinct personality. There’s the jazzy yet rhythmic piano that meets up with the somewhat jam-rock guitar that then meets up with that 70s inspired vocals that makes Dawes Dawes.
To complement the pop-infused tracks like “From a Window Seat” and album opener “Just Beneath the Surface,” and to add diversity to the album, Dawes gives us not one, not two, but a whole bunch of slow lovelorn ballads that could turn any cold heart at least a tad bit warmer. Title track, “Stories Don’t End” is one of these signature piano-drive tracks but it’s “Just My Luck” that might just break your heart the most.