Friday, October 05, 2007

Post 700: Dashboard Confessional - The Shade of Poison Trees

New this week from Dashboard Confessional, The Shade of Poison Trees comes touted as a return to acoustic solo roots. Do not, however, expect an expounding on the old standards. Shade is not as instant, as visceral, as The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most or even A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar. Where Dashboard's picture-perfect poster boy unleashed emo onto the mainstream on early records, this album does not have any of the howls and haunts one might expect. Instead, Chris Carrabba has found a new voice: one that is more self-assured and seasoned, but reined in, too.

On what starts off as seemingly a mis-step ("Where There's Gold . . ."), Carrabba eschews the first-person songs of prostration and pain for a bard's tale of a woman who becomes a victim to her own material trappings. The misleading step in this song comes when Carrabba breathes ". . . there's a gold digger." A minor point, but on a casual listen, I'm left wondering when the remix comes out with Kanye. It takes further analysis to realize that what this song really evidences is a growth as a lyricist, penning thinly veiled stories and criticisms of romance and lament.

The rather low-key title track is a heavy-hearted but guarded "what if?", apparently a series of questions all urgently asking the same thing of a potential lover: are you bold enough to try loving someone else? Moving along to the blue-collar rouse of "Matters of Blood and Connection", Dashboard Confessional forgets love and slams a trust-fund baby who tries to run with the 'regular folks', perhaps a nod to Carrabba's own roots and experiences in Boca Raton, FL.

While not as emo on its surface, Shade carries its own weight and marks its niche in Dashboard Confessional's catalog, evidencing the growth (for better or worse) of a young and broken-hearted guy with a guitar into a (still young) and slightly less broken-hearted guy with a collection of guitars and plenty of stories to share from many more areas of influence.

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