In concert: Dawes
By Scott Galupo
After an aborted attempt at alternative pop in the mid-Aughts, singer Taylor Goldsmith, now fronting the retooled quartet Dawes, has settled on a sound that's a lot closer to his Southern California home.
With midtempo rock and folk grooves matched to well-plotted harmonic vocals by Goldsmith, younger brother and drummer Griffin and keyboardist Alex Casnoff, Dawes, headlining at triple bill at Iota Tuesday night to promote their debut album "North Hills," conjured the Americana renaissance led by late-'60s canyon dwellers like Chris Hillman, Stephen Stills and Neil Young.
(Good looks, commanding stage presence, somewhat trite lyrics, plus more pictures after the jump.)
Opening number "When You Call My Name" arrived with the in-no-hurry stomp of vintage Crazy Horse, while the disarming prayer "Give Me Time" could have sidled up to one of the tracks on Stills' masterpiece "Manassas." The embittered rant "My Girl to Me," propelled by Wylie Gelber's aggressive bassline, revealed a darker, funkier edge.
Goldsmith boasts sub-Sam Rockwell good looks, energetic stage presence and a marquee-ready name (courtesy, to be sure, of father Lenny Goldsmith, the former Tower of Power singer who also contributed musical genes); his voice, alternatively conversational and soulful, commanded an audience that seemed to cheer at every bravura bulge of his neck veins.
He managed all this while fitting in a fair share of tasty Telecaster licks.
The lyrics - mainly about love or its absence, rounded out by collegiate contemplations of death - tended toward the trite. As on "If You Let Me Be Your Anchor," which asked to take on obligations well beyond those of even metaphorical anchors: "I want the feeling of waking next to you / I want to find my children at your feet."
But on "Bedside Manner," whose chorus consisted simply of a spine-tingling, almost child-like plea for "Mama," words seemed beside the point.
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