Dusk & Summer
Release Date: June 27, 2006
Vagrant Records | buy now
It’s been three years since Dashboard Confessional’s gold-release of A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar, and the long-awaited follow-up, Dusk & Summer, dually produced by Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne) and Daniel Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan), is a well put-together collection that matches, and at times exceeds the excellency of the band’s previous works and in the process, only makes one wonder why the wait was so long.
The album opens with the inspirational and anthemic “Don’t Wait,” which offers much of the intensity that fans of the band have come to not only appreciate, but also expect. The message here is a clear one: Do not wait for opportunity to arrive as it may never show itself, as waiting for “the right moment” may have such opportunity come to pass. Rather, cease the day, as the moment may in fact be now. While the second track of the album, “Reason To Believe,” maintains this feeling of optimism that seems to be far more common on this effort than in any of the band’s previous releases, “The Secret’s In The Telling,” dealing with the struggle one must face when involved in a love that is as forbidden as it is desirable, is perhaps the strongest of the three opening tracks.
Where the opening tracks all have a very “Vindicated” sound to it, the title track of the album will easily be an instant favorite for those who have spent countless nights longing to hear Chris Carrabba on his acoustic guitar concerned with nothing more than “what could have been.” This song is exactly that, and it would be shameful to not appreciate such a work as this track is easily one of the most emotional, heartfelt songs Carrabba has thus far written, and that is surely saying something incredible.
The subliminally sensual “Rooftops and Invitations” offers insight to the capabilities of a girl who is the crush of a hopeful admirer. As is the reality of such a situation, there is the feared instance that the feelings may not be reciprocated; however, the possibility that these feelings will be mutual is reason enough to hold out hope as that could lead to what may be among the greatest emotions ever felt. These conflicting impulses are brilliantly explored in the song’s chorus: “And she just might get you lost / And she just might leave you torn / But she just might save your soul / If she gets you when she gets you any closer.”
“So Long, So Long,” a duet with Counting Crows frontman Adam Durwitz, is arguably THE standout track of the album. The song, with the underlying theme at hand being the seemingly impossible “letting go process” that is experienced once a relationship has ended, may seem contradictory for an artist who once made claim (On The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most‘s “The Brilliant Dance”) that “[T]he plaster dented from your fist in the hall where you had your first kiss reminds you that the memories will fade.” However, the ease that such faded memories can reappear, and the longing for the feeling felt at the time of which these memories were created, is as real as can be when pertaining to the letting go of someone that has for so long held a set place in one’s heart.
One of the band’s most unconventional songs, “Slow Decay,” is easily one of Dusk & Summer’s more creative songs. The troubled relationship portrayed here has a father questioning why his son, who recently has returned from war, seems so troubled. There is a legit internal conflict of morals being dealt with here, exploring the traumatic experiences that come with serving in a war, particularly how the son’s friends have not made it home, or how he killed people in battle whom he did not feel hatred for.
The aforementioned “Vindicated,” along with a new track, “Write It Out,” are two “hidden” tracks that can only by heard by rewinding the CD from the beginning of “Don’t Wait” to -9:24. This is an added, while tricky bonus for those who feel that 10 tracks aren’t enough. There seems to be a healthy balance on display here, and while Dusk & Summer is simply the next stage in the evolution of Dashboard Confessional, there is hardly the sense that the band has strayed from their roots. Overall, this is an awe-inspiring effort that sees the continued growth of a band so loved and adored by its fans, and will ultimately leave listeners to at least consider whether Chris Carrabba is perhaps the most introspective songwriter of his time.
Standout Tracks: “Don’t Wait,” “So Long, So Long,” “Dusk & Summer,” “The Secret’s In The Telling,” “Reason To Believe”.
– Christopher Griffin