Well nurtured acorns, Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, fell from a family musical tree to fertile soil in Malibu, where they grew and played and rapidly sprouted strong legs and chops and friendships that would someday carry them all across this grand country and beyond. While all four Dawes members grew up on a diet of soul – proud Papa Goldsmith is a former purveyor of funk and soul as lead singer with SF bay area’s Tower of Power – the group exudes 1970′s Laurel Canyon like nobody’s business. Veterans of Jonathan Wilson’s illustrious Wednesday night canyon folk jams, the Dawes crew recorded their recent album, North Hills (ATO Records,9/29/09), live to 2″ tape at Wilson’s complex up in the legendary LA neighborhood that was once home to Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, the Mamas and the Papas, Frank Zappa, Crosby Stills and Nash and The Eagles. That period in history – a decade or so from the late 60′s to the late 70′s – was truly a golden hued age. Remarkably, the young men of Dawes channel just such exquisite beauty. Dawes has time to spend, tunes (contemplations, really) to share and a songwriter/lead singer who has a wildly expressive eyebrow and seems to be all heart and old soul, a young heavyweight with the gravity of a man at least twice his years. While Taylor’s not afraid to cut loose (he turned up at the studio in duds from the previous night’s gig, a rip in his sleeve and a huge splinter in his thigh) he’s the guy you can depend on when you need to confide and I’m pretty sure he’s the one who’s gonna tell you the truth, compassionately, no matter what that truth is.
The harmonies, the simple wholesomeness and long musical rays of Dawes’ songs evoke the vibe of an era when I and my closest used to stay in and spend Friday nights playing Monopoly, basking in counterculture of yore as we were serenaded by heartfelt Crosby, Stills and Nash, while our peers were out tooling around in a Ford Pinto cramming in Oingo Boingo and horrible 80′s bands like Journey and Yes. Dawes’ songs also dig way back to feelings of familiar home territory for me, like something we’d have heard at Gruene Hall in the company of tall oaks and beer-drinking grownups after a saturated day tubing the Guadalupe River in the Texas hill country.
However they do it, Dawes has found a tender spot and an ideal platform for Taylor Goldsmith’s contemplations and his emotive nature, not just vocally but also entirely musically: Goldsmith’s guitar sings emotions that defy verbal expression, embellishing the already rich storylines of the songs.
The youth and goodness of this group of buddies bring along not only appreciation for and rememberance of a sound and a time when hippies freely boasted of peace and love but also fresh excitement and hopefulness. Whatever comes next from Dawes will surely be an interesting extension of their deep-laid musical tendencies and obvious abilities.
Listen to the Exclusive Live Tracks (option/click to download):