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Dawes

We're All Gonna Die – 2016 (HUB)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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The title to Dawes' new live album is - one assumes - a jokey reference to the band's recent studio album, "We're All Gonna Die." But don't let this album's optimistic moniker lull you into the impression it's somehow filled with happy songs. No, it's a career overview of this act's sunny Southern California grooves, which support dark reflections on our contemporary complicated lives.

If you're already familiar with Dawes' work up to now, there isn't much revelatory about the 15 songs filling out this collection. Even so, the group transforms "Somewhere Along the Way" into an over nine-minute near opus. With its extended guitar solo, it takes on nearly "Layla"-like proportions. Yes, Dawes is best known for Taylor Goldsmiths' smart (albeit cynical) lyrics. However, with this sonic example, the band proves its instrumental chops.

At the end of the day, though, it is emotionally gripping songs like "A Little Bit of Everything" that keep Dawes fans coming back for more. Sung over a churchy acoustic piano part, this live version of the song comes off like a final benediction for the doomed. This same piano style returns for "All Your Favorite Bands," which is a breakup song every music-loving fan can appreciate. It would have fit in nicely, for example, on the soundtrack of the film "High Fidelity." It ends, quite appropriately, with an unaccompanied audience sing-along of the song's chorus.

We're all gonna die, it's true. But the question is: will we all live? Well, with Dawes' special music, we'll certainly all live much better.