Last Friday, Dawes emerged from the shadow of 2018 with a new LP titled Good Luck with Whatever. I could feel something reminiscent about the title: it’s a message of all-inclusive goodwill, something Dawes has done before in similar fashion. Taylor Goldsmith, Dawes’ frontman, has already written about hoping all your favorite bands stay together (thankfully for me, this one did) and the bits of everything that explain why we feel what we feel. Just as nearly everything they’ve released accounts for universal messages, Good Luck with Whatever is a direct continuation of Dawes as we know them.
This 2020 release is only nine tracks long, though each is packed with novel emotional material. Here, Goldsmith seems to have focused on the ways in which we don’t change: new habits not completely fixing us, people still working through their past, remaining the children they once were. It all comes as an honest proclamation when paired with Dawes’ instrumentals. Every song has that essence of being worked on for hours on end to achieve a musical complexity that echoes traditional rock structure while being completely unique in the winding paths walked in each story. “Still Feel Like A Kid” is a steady rock jam touching on the feeling that despite the signals of life milestones, we still bear a psychological resemblance to our younger, more childish selves. Lee Pardini’s keyboard riffs coach the atmosphere and tell it like it is. The later “Me Especially” seems like a slow rolling reprise of it: “we’re just as young as we used to be / this goes for me especially”.
“Good Luck with Whatever” wishes everyone well but admitting he doesn’t really care— maybe a statement about the human condition and an innate selfishness because our lives are ultimately our own, which may be the only thing worth knowing. I will try to not read into it too much. What I can say is that the lead guitar, which is distorted, adds something melancholically spaced-out to the song. There’s supporting vocals here too, of a welcoming quality, likely that from Griffin Goldsmith (the drummer for Dawes and Taylor’s brother).
You read the gauges on “Between the Zero and the One” and they’re bursting; the lyrics admit that you’re not your past or your future, but that life is spent entirely between states of ultimate good and ultimate bad. It feels candidate for quintessential. The music goes like reaching for the top of the mountain and you make out a blazing sun on the other side. For me, something like that. To each their own, right?
“None of My Business” pleads that we can never fully understand the problems and choices of others, that passing judgement is nonsensical. I’ve always enjoyed Dawes for being so clever in their passing bits of latent wisdom under Goldsmith’s flawless and self-assured vocals. Goldsmith is also a multi-instrumentalist, revealed by his credits on The New Basement Tapes, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was inclined to lay a keyboard track of his own before recording the guitar. “Who Do You Think You’re Talking To” is a good one to check out for this blend, is my personal favorite on the album). If he does in fact record keys, I hope he doesn’t step on Pardini’s toes in the process!
All told, this album is a worthwhile listen. I didn’t give a perfect personal rating since it mostly just feels like the same Dawes, when I was sort of hoping for some experimentation. But don’t let me drag down anyone who stays sonically similar. It’s a great sounding album and Dawes has surely become more skilled in every aspect. It only wasn’t superbly impactful to me. So if you’re on the lookout for music reminiscent of rock and roll, avoiding carbon copy and instead aiming toward a wit of folk, I would recommend this album. It appears that Dawes has tightened their grasp on clarity amid current events, and listening to them has put me at ease: we’re all here between a zero and a one.
Article By: Justin Capra