Sometimes those who study history are trying to repeat it, like Dawes, a band with a sound steeped in the past.
Tuesday night, the quartet from Los Angeles headlined a show at Crossroads KC. The crowd was relatively small — in the 500-plus range — and the weather delayed the start of its set by nearly an hour. But once the show started, the band played as if neither mattered, delivering a set that lasted 15 minutes short of two hours and evoked the sounds of a gilded era.
Dawes is led by Taylor Goldsmith, whose voice sounds a lot like Jackson Browne’s and/or Stephen Bishop’s. His songs are tuneful and loaded with with poetic lyrics and arranged in ways that evoke the sounds of everyone from the Band, Van Morrison and Crosby, Stills Nash to the Counting Crows and Browne in his “Late for the Sky” days.
They opened Tuesday’s show with “Most People” from their latest album, “Stories Don’t End,” released in April. Like much of the rest of the songs on the setlist, it’s a breezy, melodic, midtempo number that renders lots of lyrical images and observations, in this case of a woman on the verge of surrender to life’s burdens: “Like January Christmas lights under billion year old stars / She comes up with more of what is lost than what is found.”
Dawes’ sound is warm, organic and no-frills: guitar, bass, drums from Goldsmith’s kid brother, Griffin, and plenty of soulful keyboards from Tay Straithairn. They change tempos and arrangements enough to keep things from getting too monotonous or monochromatic
The setlist drew from all three of their albums, and the crowd seemed familiar with them all. They would play more than half of “Stories Don’t End” and several of the best tracks off its two predecessors. Most of those prompted some singing-along, like the melancholic “Time Spent in Los Angeles” the bittersweet “Fire Away,” which closed the show, and the exultant “When My Time Comes.” That one includes the line: “Anyone that's making anything new only breaks something else.” Dawes isn’t making anything new, but by mining the sounds of another era, it is reviving something worth hearing and creating music built to last.
Setlist: Most People; Just Beneath the Surface; The Way You Laugh; From the Right Angle; So Well; When My Time Comes; Coming Back to a Man; Side Effects; Someone Will; Time Spent In Los Angeles; Bear Witness; It’s a Little Bit of Everything; From a Window Seat; Peace in the Valley. Encore: Million Dollar Bill; Fire Away.