I don’t know anything about Dawes – What they look like, their personnel, their music, their habits, etc. What I have gleaned in a little over 51 minutes is that they make very American-sounding country-tinged AOR in the style of The Eagles, occasionally crossing over into well-worn harmonic territory a la Crowded House. This is no bad thing if your tastes don’t go any further than the lighter stylings of say Fleet Foxes or Midlake. The vocals ring clear and the singer can certainly hold a tune, whilst the lyrics are pure inoffensive Americana in their stance.
Opening track, ‘Just beneath the surface‘ is country-tinged with a chiming guitar refrain all the way through, whilst the vocal reminds me of Neil Finn. ‘From a window seat’ is reminiscent of Dire Straits in the laid-back riff and vocal melody; in fact, towards the end I’d swear I was listening to an out-take of ‘Sultans of swing’ (not that the listener has studied Knopfler et al in that detail!)
The album hereby drifts into middling territory very early on; the style of the songs rarely change, the pace is pedestrian and, whilst the vocals are clear and the singer can certainly manage his delivery, the lyrics are a tremendous let-down. They manage to be whimsical, lightweight, yearning (for what exactly?) and generally insipid all at the same time. The lack of variety is most evident on the title track, whereby the backing is so muted as to be barely supportive of the vocal. A slide guitar appears and disappears and the lyric informs the listener that stories have an end, but in this case the story doesn’t…..have….an….end. Weird concept.
Overall, the album never gets going. It can’t be described as unpleasant, but it is the aural equivalent of a cooling mug of Ovaltine – Neither warming, refreshing or particularly exciting. I can’t really see a need for this; it’s probably squarely aimed at the AOR market in the mid-West where it will no doubt be lapped up, forever destined to be played in trucks by guys with the sleeves cut off their plaid shirts. I really can’t see the impact this would have on the UK market; there is nothing new to hear here.