IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Dawes
By Jeff Elbel For Sun-Times Media December 11, 2013 6:20PM
Dawes | JEFF ELBEL PHOTO
With roots in Americana and the easygoing folk-pop of the ’70s, the music of Dawes is as comfortable as the rumpled flannel shirt worn onstage by frontman Taylor Goldsmith at the Pritzker Pavilion earlier this year.
The quartet’s debut album “North Hills” arrived in 2009. It drew almost universal, and predominantly favorable, comparisons to The Band. That was fair enough. Freshman singles “That Western Skyline” and “When My Time Comes” inhabit similar positions in Dawes’ catalog as “The Weight” and “Up on Cripple Creek” hold in the canon of the venerable Canadian pioneers of electric folk-rock. Perhaps the essence was that The Band seemed so iconic that no one expected a younger act to travel similar ground with credibility.
Regardless, Dawes has taken lessons from multiple teachers. Neil Young and Jackson Browne echo through the youthful Goldsmith’s old-soul character sketches during “A Little Bit of Everything” and “Most People.” The American jangle of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Here Comes My Girl” shimmers with Tay Strathairn’s gospel organ during “Fire Away.” The restless pulse of Wylie Gelber’s bass during “From a Window Seat” recalls classic Fleetwood Mac.
With its modern take on old-fashioned songcraft and interplay, Dawes may ultimately be the most satisfying American band of its generation. The group is particularly beloved by those holding a torch for the heyday of album-oriented rock. Judging by the consistent strength of three albums including this year’s “Stories Don’t End,” Dawes may ultimately have more staying power than predecessors like Kings of Leon as well.
If fans at the Chicago Theatre are lucky, charmingly twitchy drummer and younger Goldsmith brother Griffin will dust off the cover of Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight” that was skipped at this summer’s Downtown Sound performance in Millennium Park.
♦ Dawes, with The Head and the Heart, at the 93XRT/Bud Light Big Holiday Concert, 7 p.m. Dec. 15, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, Tickets $45; thechicagotheatre.com. SPOTIFY playlist: http://spoti.fi/18E2JH0
VIDEO: “Dawes Works Through Writer’s Block” (Funny or Die) – http://bit.ly/18aOJ77