Is there anything better than taking a chance on a new-to-you band and being captivated by them mere seconds into the first song on their record?
I continue to rail against the prevailing wisdom that contemporary music offers nothing compelling. There are so many phenomenal talents making great records I can hardly get to them all. I knew Dawes by name but never found time to investigate until multiple discussions of their new record popped up on my Twitter timeline. I made the bold decision to gamble on the unknown, considering it an $8 investment in my own happiness. I could buy and sell all of you if I could get the kind of return on investment in the stock market that Stories Don't End yielded, rewarding me many times over.
So back to where I started: instant captivation. "Just Beneath The Surface" opens the record with ear candy -- faint harmonies gliding above a muted, shuffling beat -- before Taylor Goldsmith begins his examination of the concept of multiple versions of ourselves existing within. He explores this internal conflict with clever wordplay in the chorus but the bridge illustrates this best:
Between the thoughtless words and the wordless thoughts
Between my plotless fears and my fearless plots
Between the parts of me I keep from you and the things that I'm just not
The center keeps on drifting
The music never stops
Goldsmith is equally engaging on "From A Window Seat," turning the fine art of "people watching" into a story. He doesn't just muse about where his fellow passengers might be going when they land but creates back stories for them, turning them into characters. It passes the time until he falls asleep and becomes a character himself, only to have his dream interrupted by landing at his destination. The harmonies are again present as is a tasteful piece of lead guitar work.
The first two tracks on the record are excellent examples of what Goldsmith can do as a lyricist and he combines introspection and observation on "Most People," the heart of this fantastic record. He sketches a woman, lost in the crowd of humanity, who feels at once connected and isolated. It is poignant, powerful, and hopeful:
She thinks "Most people don't talk about how lucky they are
Most people don't know what it takes for me to get through the day
Most people don't talk enough about the love in their hearts"
But she doesn't know most people feel that same way
The female protagonist can't find a way to express those feelings and so, in another beautiful passage, tells her companion "Just let me hold your hand/so far it's the only way I can let myself be heard." I love the idea we can see each other as blessed and blessings, wishing those around us could see that in themselves. I love that when words fail, it's human touch that says what language can't.
I never would have written this if I waited to uncover every treasure this record holds which, coincidentally, dovetails with the title track.
If our lives were a movie
If our lives were a book
It'd be longer than I'd recommend
'Cause if you're telling a story
At some point you stop
But stories don't end
The story isn't over but this review is, for now. I'll never consume all the wonders waiting to be discovered in the hours I'll spend listening to these songs and that is why I confidently offer this piece of "can't miss" investment advice: go all in on Dawes. Buy shares in Stories Don't End, marvel at your gains, and discover one of the finest albums of 2013.