You don’t need any “Passwords” to catch one of America’s pre-eminent neo-folk bands in Rocky Mount. Dawes, whose latest album bears that title, plays Harvester Performance Center on Wednesday.
The ferociously mid-tempo, Southern Cali-flavored rockers are hitting the venue for the second time. Dawes played the Harvester in September 2017. That SoCal lean runs more from dusk to dawn than a golden daylight, both musically and lyrically. Take this sample lyric from “Living In The Future,” the opening track to last year’s “Password:” “There’s a madness to the method / There’s a market for the fear / It’s that dance out on the razor’s edge / The wolf held by the ears.”
The band’s frontman, guitarist and singer Taylor Goldsmith is responsible for the songwriting end, but his bandmates, brother Griffin Goldsmith (drums), bassist Wylie Gelber and keyboardist Lee Pardini, make the bittersweet musical vibe come alive on record. And live, too. In a review for the Houston Press, in Texas, Connor Fields wrote that “Dawes has ... made their mark by taking a blue-collar approach — devoting themselves to years on the road, gaining familiarity with one another’s musical sensibilities, and ultimately growing into as nearly perfect as a live band can be.”
That was in evidence even seven years ago, when Dawes — along with Nickel Creek’s Sara and Sean Watkins — was Jackson Browne’s backing band at FloydFest. Browne’s mark on the band was more noticeable then, but 10 years into its history, Dawes is sounding more and more like itself.