If someone played Stories Don't End for you, not knowing who it was, you'd probably assume it came from Laurel Canyon — the area which spawned the sound of Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Eagles, Jackson Browne and others. It's in the tones and rhythms, the vocal stylings and hints of harmonies. It's not new for Dawes, but on the band's third album, there's more maturity and depth to the songwriting.
Piano splashes in behind the warm folk-rock grooves on "Just Beneath the Surface" without sounding like it came directly from the '70s. "From a Window Seat" could be a Fleetwood Mac outtake, with the knocks of congas and upbeat guitar chords that alternate with picked riffs.
There are moments (see "Most People") when the band ventures a little bit too close to sleep-inducing soft rock, but the quartet usually wanders out before it gets lost. "Something in Common" is a ballad that veers close to alt-country territory, with its twanging guitar and heartbroken lyrics.
"Hey Lover" shines a light on the band's humorous side, though at times the message isn't clear. "I want to raise with you, and watch our younglings hatch/fucking make the first letters of their first names match," they sing.
When the band first hit the airwaves five years ago, there was a dominant buzz about their refreshing take on the familiar styles of the past. Should Dawes be staying true to their sound, or start exploring a broader range at this point in its career? With Stories Don't End, the band sinks deeper into its previously stitched pocket of what it does best.
The band will open for Bob Dylan at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre on May 1.