Stories Don't End, the third outing from breezy Los Angeles-based retro-rockers Dawes, takes its name from a line in author Joan Didion's 1984 wartime novel Democracy. It's an enigmatic phrase to be sure, but it certainly applies to the group's penchant for crafting highly literate slabs of smooth, West Coast Americana out of the highway wreckage left behind by artists like the Eagles, the Little River Band, Poco, Jackson Browne, and Gram Parsons. Less overtly Laurel Canyon-centric than 2011's Nothing Is Wrong, due in some part to the East Coast Blue Ridge Mountain locale in which it was birthed, the album keeps the band's classic rock underpinnings intact, yielding a fresh catch of smooth and soulful, largely midtempo offerings that focus on substance over style, relying primarily on the strength of the tasteful, measured arrangements and bandleader Taylor Goldsmith's easy voice and crafty wordplay. Stories Don't End barely registers upon the first spin (it's easy pop for the millennial generation), but if given the time to percolate, it produces a damn fine cup of coffee. This adherence to familiar singer/songwriter tropes is best exemplified on tracks like the rolling "From a Window Seat (Rivers and Freeways)," which echoes Midlake's "Roscoe," the Ben Folds-esque "Just My Luck," and the lovely, mid-record ballad "Something in Common," the latter of which frames Goldsmith's tale of hope and heartache in the reassuring glow of vibrato guitar, simple kick and snare, and a melody that sounds like it floated out of the studio sessions for Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger