Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Since we first met the four men in Dawes a year and a half ago, we've spent a lot of time with them. We've spent days with them in barns, freezing all of our asses off, drinking lots of whiskey, hot apple cider and hot chocolate. We've seen them hop out into the yard and chase around barnyard animals, squawking and fussing to get out of the way. We've seen them get very little sleep and spend every waking hour singing and playing, just spilling with what they have running through them. We've spent a 4th of July with them, standing beneath a menacing purple-black sky full of storm clouds, rain and a couple hundred dollars worth of illegal fireworks. There have been babies in our families named after them. We've talked to them for hours until our throats were raw with the task and the effort, turned husky but still happy to have done it. We've come to love them as brothers and yet, through all of it, what still remains untouched is their ability to make us gasp with the purity of what they do and who they are as a group of musicians. Even a close friendship doesn't dull one's sense of awe when it comes to their debut album "North Hills," a live show that's absolutely a religious experience and new songs that are just as good and scarily meaningful. They never cease to make us stop and account for our own deficiencies - not in a destructive way, but in a way that forces us to be closer to ourselves and those that we tell ourselves we loved and are told that we're loved by. The words that Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith write are ongoing scrolls of the kind of men that they want to be someday, realizing that somedays are usually drawn out propositions. There are lengthy struggles with everyone else, along with the hard-to-win struggles with the self, that somehow still pay off with revelations and with unparalleled looks at beauty. Taylor Goldsmith, who pens the great majority of the band's lyrical content, is as magnificent of a songwriter as there is currently creating, able to get at the core of what it means to not just run through life blind and void of feeling, but to be dripping with an appreciation for all of the littlest things - for the tender touches, for the kind asides, for the sweet kisses, for the reckless moments, for the guttural laughs and even for all of the times (maybe mostly for all of the times) that someone's hurt us and brought us to tears. It's in those wrecking ball instances, when we've been torn wantonly from our foundation that Goldsmith gets to so easily, recounting all of his surroundings -- the weather, the temperature of the coffee, what he was wearing - and letting them shape the way he responds to his misfortunes. His is an alertness that shines through the pain and takes the experience to a place that holds so much pregnant hopefulness, of getting through these rough times and on to the pay-off. Every piece of a Dawes song - from the Goldsmith's spot-on harmonies and the touch of old soul, to bassist Wylie Gelber's stunning contributions, to keyboardist Alex Casnoff's unassuming accents - is where it belongs and of a timeless bent. The words of the younger Goldsmith, in the new song, "How Far We've Come," are some of the best indications of how they see what they do, as he sings, "This is all love was ever for/To see how far we've come…Why a mother keeps a record of a child's height/Why we all are here tonight/Is to see how far we've come." It's as if they're on this never-ending course of discovery, growth, fulfillment and love that so tragically - we all know - will come to a stop, but Taylor Goldsmith reminds us that the rewards are still their, in multitude, singing, "Before heaven proves me hopeless, I won't forget my way back home." It's love and life, and the drawbacks of each, splashing around together, fully alive.