VINYL MUSIC HALL PRESENTS
2 S. Palafox St.
Pensacola, FL, 35202
Doors 7:30 PM (event ends at 11:00 PM)
This event is all ages
While the city of Los Angeles has been both an inspiration and a home to the four members of Dawes, they found themselves traveling East last fall to record their third album in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina with newly enlisted producer Jacquire King. It was a chance to hunker down and work each day for a month away from familiar landmarks and routines. The tracks they laid down at Asheville’s Echo Mountain Studio have yielded a 12-song disc of tremendous sonic and narrative clarity, book-ended in classic album fashion by two very different versions of the wistful “Just Beneath The Surface” – a misleading title, really, since the songs stacked in between dig so deep. Stories Don’t End is not so much a departure from the quartet’s previous efforts as a distillation of them. It spotlights the group’s maturing skills as arrangers, performers and interpreters who shape the raw material supplied by chief songwriter and lead vocalist Taylor Goldsmith into an artfully concise and increasingly soulful sound.
Once again, Goldsmith displays a particular gift for tunes that balance tough and tender, hardboiled and heartbroken. As a writer, he prowls his psyche like a forties detective, looking for clues to the mysteries of life and love. “Just My Luck” has the irresistible pull of a vintage country tune, though the arrangement is understated and contemporary. If Goldsmith’s vocal delivery weren’t plaintive enough, the band ups the emotional ante with a beautiful wordless coda that intertwines Tay Strathairn’s piano and Goldsmith’s lead guitar. Similarly “Something In Common” is a morning-after shuffle that builds into a bigger and more dramatic track before dropping back to a quiet melancholic finish. Goldsmith takes a few simple words, like “something in common,” and uses them like chapter headings to develop a compelling story, full of unexpected twists, from verse to verse. “Someone Will” includes the same kind of word play while boasting a little more swagger. “Hey Lover,” a cover of a tongue-in-cheek tune by Dawes’ good buddy Blake Mills, is a playful mid-album break with Taylor Goldsmith and his young brother, drummer Griffin Goldsmith, trading off lead vocals.
Before he started composing for the album, says Taylor, “I went through a Joan Didion tear.” It was right after he read the legendary author’s Democracy that he found the title, Stories Don’t End, in her work. Though Didion is currently a New Yorker, she is most associated with Southern California, its culture of the sixties and seventies, a subject she examined in gimlet-eyed prose. When Goldsmith started penning new songs after several months on the road in support of Dawes’ 2011 disc, Nothing Is Wrong, his writing was even more keenly observant. “From a Window Seat” was the first he completed and, he admits, “It’s a very singular song. A lot of the songs on the record can be a little more broad, about a period in someone’s life or trying to explore a certain feeling. This song is about a specific experience of being on an airplane and that’s not a very poetic or lyrical idea.” Yet Goldsmith, employing an accumulation of small details, once again finds the bigger picture, about the narrator’s past and his (and our) uncertain future, about the history lurking beneath the swimming pool-dotted landscape below him. Just as important is the track itself—lean, propulsive and guitar-driven – lending urgency to Goldsmith’s in-flight musings. Similarly, “Bear Witness,” a last-minute addition to the lineup that the band arranged during the Asheville sessions, is an almost cinematically vivid rendering of a man having a conversation with his child from his hospital bed.
Nothing Is Wrong had garnered considerable acclaim, with London’s Independent declaring, “It’s as close to a perfect Americana album as there’s been this year.” Up to then, the band had relied on good friend Jonathan Wilson as producer, cutting its 2009 debut disc, North Hills, at Wilson’s Laurel Canyon studio and its follow-up with Wilson at a larger room in Echo Park. But Wilson’s own career as a solo artist was taking off following the release of his Gentle Spirit disc, and the band began a search for a new collaborator. King boasted an impressive and unusual resume, having produced an eclectic range of artists, including Kings of Leon, Modest Mouse, Norah Jones and the Punch Brothers. Says keyboardist Strathairn, “He’s really easy to work with. As a producer he doesn’t want to be the artist, he simply tries to make the band sound the best that the band can be. And the work speaks for itself.”
Recording with King and foregoing the quickly cut, straight-to-analog tape approach of its first two recordings was a way, says Taylor, for Dawes “to push the boundaries of what might be expected of us, or feel like a comfort zone for us, while trying to be the same band we always are. That was important to us. We didn’t want to abandon anybody’s sense of who we were and, more importantly, our sense of ourselves. We wanted to stay true to this thing that we had while starting to widen the spectrum a little bit.”
The reprise of “Just Beneath the Surface” at the end of the disc, however, is a first-take document of the band figuring out the tune together, and it was too good not to keep. As bassist Wylie Gelber recalls, “We knew the vibe we were going for and we were running through it while Jacquire was setting up. But we were completely unaware that he was recording us. We were fooling around and towards the end of it, we stopped for a minute and Jacquire said, Hey man, I think we’ve got it. We tried to beat that take but we couldn’t. You can hear it there, you can feel that it’s the first time it’s being played, it’s a simple song and there’s a subtle art to doing it. It ebbs and flows.”
“With Jacquire,” explains Taylor, “we were able to hold on to an essence of what we had been, but I feel now, more than with our first two records, that this makes a case that we’re a band from 2013. There a lot of bands that harken back to a period or style of a different time and that can be really limiting. That was never our intention.”
“The album is very honest,” concludes Strathairn. “It’s us.”
- - Michael Hill
Exploring your emotions can make for a good song, but it's shining light on those which plague us
all that builds the backbone of the truly great ones. Coupled with tireless melodies that seep into the small
spaces between your bones; it's the kind of music that brings on little movements when life has gotten too stiff.
This is what Caitlin Rose does best. Her lyrics – visceral, illustrative, witty and wry – are pieces of stories that
examine matters of the heart through a unique lens that makes us all see a bit more clearly: from the loneliness
of relationships, to palpable dissolving human connectivity, to the loss of love with none of the melodrama. At
her core, Nashville's Rose is a storyteller and a song-crafter who is more interested in what's being produced
than how it helps her along the way.
Though much of her acclaimed debut Own Side Now was personally-inspired, what stood out most was
its ability to paint a picture and tell a near-cinematic story, from the simultaneous last puffs of both cigarette
and relationship, to the delightfully seedy characters pocketed in a coin-toss on the streets of New York City.
With her follow-up, The Stand-In, Rose seems more interested in telling tales than spilling confessionals. "It
feels more compelling to live through a song than it did having already lived it," she says, The Stand-In is a
journey down a road she's always wanted to take: the path of the story-song. One track, "Pink Champagne,"
inspired by a Joan Didion short essay, accounts for the desperate, short-lived passions of a Vegas wedding.
The emotions stem from both protagonists, but are dissected and recounted by the watchful eye of the chapel
or some honest observer from within. This collection of songs seems bent on investigating relationships from
different perspectives; male and female, young and old, left and leaving, but they all tackle the bitter farewells,
romantic misunderstandings and endless responsibilities in life. Using fibers of her fringe country roots and the
bold musical capabilities of fellow producers/co-writers, Jordan Lehning and Skylar Wilson (Justin Townes
Earle), The Stand-In seamlessly melds pedal steel guitar with restless pop beats, creating lush instrumentals
that build on the more spare construction of Own Side Now. "These songs are all based in sentiment. We wrote
the stories to convey a feeling." The result is infinitely more universal.
Rose doesn't like to categorize her music, but like the great songwriters of our time, what she creates
is beyond easy classification. While she often mentions core influences like Linda Ronstadt, Bob Dylan and
Patsy Cline, she's constantly absorbing books, movies, cultural ticks: when explaining her writing style, she
pulls a quote from famed 1930's daredevil, Karl Wallenda who said, "being on the wire is life; the rest is just
waiting." The quote is referenced in Bob Fosse's 1979 semi-autobiographical film, All That Jazz. The film
was written and directed by the famed choreographer turned director whose colorful personality and editorial
brilliance became a lead inspiration in the making of The Stand-In. In the context of the scene in which it's
used, the quote comes off as a bit of a put-on, but somehow rings true for 'slave to show-biz' character Joe
Gideon; and Rose as well for whom, all paths lead to the song. Much like Fosse, she tends to describe her
work as restrained and deliberate, something evident on Own Side Now. Though for The Stand-In, she's taken
a few leaps outside her comfort zone, making the result, as she puts it, something like a "first attempt at a high
It's fitting that Rose wrote her first song at sixteen as a substitution for a high school paper. Even as a
means to an end, she recognized the power of music, and of melody, to relay emotions and stories in the most
gripping way possible. A youthful observer, she enjoyed hanging out after school at the local Waffle House
drinking cups of coffee and quietly shaping bits of gossip into first person tales of woe.
Growing up in Nashville to music industry parents (her mother, Liz Rose, is a songwriter who found
success working with artists like Taylor Swift, Leann Womack and others), Rose inherited her mother's
"inclination towards melody –the ability to naturally know where melody could and should go" early on and
again credits her love of songwriting to a long list of influences, many of which would be easily found in either
of her parents record collections. From Hank Williams to The Rolling Stones, she says, "I've always been more
inspired by what others have done."
This is evident in her penchant for covers – two have made their way onto The Stand-In ("I Was
Cruel," by The Deep Vibration and "Dallas" by The Felice Brothers). She considers herself not just a writer,
but an interpreter of song, eager to take works she admires and expose others to their brilliance and also
reinvent them in a way that upon listening you might catch something you missed before.
"For me the intention behind any song is writing a good one," Rose says "and to create something
worthy enough to share with other people" Rose's songs, however, are way beyond worthy. They're downright
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