California-based alt-rock outfit Dishwalla is set to release its first new album in more than a decade later this month. The album, Juniper Road, is the band’s fifth full-length album and its first since the release of its self-titled album Dishwalla in 2005. Regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Dishwalla, listeners will agree in large part that this latest effort from Dishwalla is a positive re-introduction for the band to new fans and its more seasoned fans. That is proven early on in the album’s second song, ‘Give Me A Sign,’ which will be discussed shortly. ‘Don’t Fade Away,’ which comes a little later in the record’s sequence, also exemplifies what makes this record an appealing return for the band. It will be discussed later. ‘Darkness Conceals’ is yet another of the songs featured in this record that exhibits what makes the album a welcome return for the band. It most certainly is not the only other song that shows what makes the album such a surprisingly enjoyable new offering from Dishwalla. It offers nine other songs that could just as easily be discussed in making that statement. Considering this, the whole of this 12-song album proves to be potentially one of this year’s top new rock albums.
Juniper Road is a surprisingly enjoyable new offering from Dishwalla. That is due both to the decidedly 90s rock sound exhibited in each of the songs featured in the 12-song, 48-minute record and the lyrical content presented in each. ‘Give Me A Sign’ is just one of the songs that serves to support that statement. As noted it, like so many of the album’s other offerings boasts a decidedly 90s rock vibe in its musical arrangement. The gently-flowing arrangement, whose foundation is formed by Jim Woods’ keyboard work Rodney B Cravens’ guitar work and drummer George Pendergast’s time keeping, is a radio-ready work that would be an easy fit at any mainstream rock and adult contemporary station. The composition is that easy on the ears.
In regards to its lyrical content, that material is just as radio-ready as the song’s musical arrangement. It comes across as a work steeped in the matter of relationships, yet is not one just a standard work. That is inferred as front man Justin Fox sings, “You walked into the crowded room/On the first day of the past/I watched the conversations stop/Above the Earth you made your way/As the tide stood slowly/But/I knew from then I had no choice/From the darkness to the spotlight/I will keep you trained in my sights/Till I finally get the chance to know/How to find my way through the window.” He and his band mates go on to sing in the song’s chorus, “Where do you go when the lights go down/Where do you scream when there’s no one around and waiting for you/For all of this time/Burning bright like a dying star/Setting fire through this endless sky/I’ve been waiting for you/Just give me a sign/Just give me a sign.” Fox’s use of metaphor is just as thought-provoking throughout the rest of the song as he sings about a person having gone through so much while the subject continues to say, “give me a sign.” The subject is saying to that person, “give me a sign” about what he should do. It’s not a pleading cry. Rather, it comes across more as a statement saying he’s been there all along for the other person. The song’s musical arrangement adds to that statement, painting a picture that evokes great emotion even though neither it nor the song’s lyrical theme try to go over the top. Considering this, the two elements join to show why the song in whole is just one of the ways in which Juniper Road proves to be such a surprisingly enjoyable return for Dishwalla. It is not the only song included in this record that supports that statement. ‘Don’t Fade Away’ supports that statement just as much as ‘Show Me A Sign.’
‘Show Me A Sign’ clearly *ahem* shows in itself why Dishwalla’s new album is a welcome return for the band. That is evident due to the song’s radio-ready and moving musical arrangement and its lyrical content. It is not the album’s only key composition. ‘Don’t Fade Away,’ which comes slightly later in the album’s sequence, is another song that shows what makes Juniper Road enjoyable. As with the prior song, that is evidenced in part through its musical arrangement, which is driven in large part through the combined efforts of bassist Scot Alexander and drummer George Pendergast. The pair’s rhythm combo keeps the song’s energy flowing from start to finish. Meanwhile guitarist Rodney Cravings adds his own special touch to the song along with Fox. The joining of those elements led to a composition that is not only up-beat, but also just as radio-ready as that of ‘Show Me A Sign’ if not more so. What’s more the group’s combined efforts make the song’s three-and-a-half-minute run time pass by effortlessly, leaving listeners feeling fulfilled by the time the song ends. That arrangement is only one part of what makes the song stand out. Its lyrical content is just as notable as its musical arrangement.
The lyrical content presented in ‘Don’t Fade Away’ is so important to note because of the seeming social commentary contained therein. That is inferred as Fox sings in the song’s lead verse, “I al often stunned/By the world that we’ve become/Desperate isolation has us trying to hold on/Somehow in this place/We found a single light to start again to shine/Illuminate our hearts/Day after day after night/Time spins…” From there, he and his band mates sing in the song’s chorus, “Don’t fade away/You’ve got to set this night ablaze/And try to stay awake until/The morning light has turned the sky light.” That message is repeated again in the chorus’ refrain following the second verse in which Fox sings, “You feel life’s illusion/Intoxicate your will/Waiting for the moment you will notice it’s true/Could you overtake it/And give in to the dark…But I know I won’t feel the same/Day after night after day.” Some of the lyrics are difficult to decipher without a lyrics sheet to reference. But the statement that can be understood, when set alongside the positive message in the song’s chorus seems to present a message of hope; a message that tells listeners not to give up in even the most difficult situations. That positive upbeat musical arrangement that accompanies that seeming message strengthens it even more along with the song in whole. Keeping that in mind, the seeming positive message of hope in the song’s lyrical content and its equally bright musical arrangement show in whole even more why Juniper Road is a surprisingly enjoyable return for Dishwalla. It still is not the last of the songs included in the album that serves to show what makes it stand out. ‘Darkness Conceals’ is yet another example of what makes the album a surprisingly standout return for the band.
‘Show Me A Sign’ and ‘Don’t Fade Away’ are both critical in showing what makes Juniper Road a welcome return for Dishwalla. The songs’ musical arrangements are both fully radio-ready as are their lyrical themes. Even with this in mind, they are not the only songs that serve to make the record stand out. ‘Darkness Conceals’ is yet another example of what makes the album so strong. As with the previously noted songs, this work stands out in part because of its own musical arrangement. The arrangement presented here stands out from those songs and the rest of the album’s offerings just as much as they stand out from one another. It comes across as a sort of blues-based arrangement that is also just as radio-ready as any of the album’s other songs. It is driven in large part through Fox’s vocals, with Cravens building on that foundation even more. That infectious arrangement couples with words that make the song in whole even more intriguing for listeners.
The song’s lyrical content is so intriguing because it seems to present its own social commentary. That is inferred as Fox sings in the song’s lead verse, “We’re not the shade we say we are/It’s the grey that lies between/In the light we hide our true desire/never know what darkness conceals/Or what might be revealed in the light.” The song’s second verse hints at that social commentary just as much as Fox sings, “In this dream we’ve built aloud/Not ever what it seems/Lies inside you keep don’t make a sound/You never know what darkness conceals/Or what might be revealed in the light.” The seeming commentary continues even more in the song’s final verse, though that verse seems to add a hint of a relationship matter, making the song’s lyrical content even deeper. Whether the song is meant to be taken as a social commentary or as a song perhaps about lies kept in relationships, lyrically speaking, the way in which the lyrics were composed will certainly keep listeners thinking and talking long after the song ends. That is a good thing, too. When coupled with the song’s musical arrangement, the song will even more ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment. Considering this, the two elements show why the song in whole is such an important part of Juniper Road. When it is joined with ‘Give Me A Sign,’ ‘Don’t Fade Away’ and the album’s other nine songs, the end result is an album that proves to be potentially one of this year’s top new rock records.
Dishwalla’s first new album in a dozen years is an unexpectedly entertaining effort. From start to finish, the album shows Dishwalla has not lost a step since the release of its last album. It proves the band still has what it takes to stand with its counterparts in the mainstream rock realm. That is evidenced in the radio-ready musical arrangements and thought-provoking lyrical content presented in ‘Give Me A Sign,’ ‘Don’t Fade Away’ and ‘Darkness Conceals.’ The same applies to the other nine albums that fill out the album’s body. All things considered, this record in whole proves to be a work that could be one of this year’s top new rock albums. It will be available in stores and online Friday, July 14 via Pavement Entertainment. More information on Juniper Road is available online now along with all of Dishwalla’s latest news and more at:
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