Having been a fan of Chris Carrabba’s vehicle Dashboard Confessional since way back in the Swiss Army Romance days, my curiosity was more than piqued to check out his latest full-length effort Dusk And Summer; his first since 2003’s flawed but promising A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar. As with the vein established on A Mark, A Mission; Dashboard continues full steam ahead with the full-band sound they tried out to mediocre enough effect there. I’m happy to report that, on Dusk And Summer, Carrabba sounds more like he did on the fantastic Spider-Man 2 soundtrack piece “Vindicated,” as opposed to his still-getting-his-feet-wet feel of A Mark, A Mission.
I more than anyone am a stalwart for the old days of fully acoustic guitar based Dashboard Confessional records. All through his career, the style of Carrabba’s songs seemed fully intended, and most at home, on nothing more than an acoustic guitar. The simplicity and raw musicality just seemed like the only thing that could do them the right kind of justice; a simple medium for simple songs. But, on Dusk And Summer, a new Dashboard Confessional is to be found.
Over the three years since the release of the stumbling A Mark, A Mission, Carrabba has put together a stellar backing band, and has most importantly honed his abilities to write songs that can be fully, and best, realized with complete instrumentation. Coming from a mostly acoustic singer-songwriter, this is a remarkably realized full band effort; and turns out to be just as enjoyable, if not more enjoyable, than his older acoustic work.
This is the first record that truly stands as a testament that Chris Carrabba really is a talented musician and songwriter, as opposed to just that good looking emo poster boy that was the butt of jokes, and presumed to be enjoyed by only whiny, teenage kids looking for attention. Look no further than the fact that, on the track “So Long, So Long,” Carrabba shares the mic with none other than the Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz to see how far he has come from his emo niche days. If one of the most talented, respected songwriters in music today is willing to work with you, you’ve got to be doing something right. A hint of a more electric incarnation of the ‘Crows can even be felt to some degrees on this record, with the songwriting finally growing into the maturity that you always knew was there, but just below the surface.
As far as highlights go, the first single “Don’t Wait” gives a fairly superficial representation of what’s to be found here. Mid-to-up-tempo songs about the usual Dashboard fare of broken hearts and such, albeit with a bit more maturity. Interspersed among those you’ll find masterworks such as the aforementioned Duritz duet “So Long, So Long,” and the near-heart breaking acoustic title track ballad “Dusk And Summer.” It seems so that, with Dusk And Summer, Dashboard Confessional has found a title that turns out to be quite prophetic. The end of the day has come for the emo poster boy, and the new season is dawning for the respected, immensely talented songwriter that has been hiding in the dust there all along.