Dashboard Confessional – All The Truth That I Can Tell (Album Review)

Dashboard Confessional – All The Truth That I Can Tell 
Released: February 25, 2022

Lineup:

Chris Carrabba // Vocals/ Guitar
Scott Schoenbeck // Guitar
Armon Jay // Guitar
Chris Kamrada // Drums

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Chris Carrabba Dashboard Confessional’s engine room and long serving front man/ creative nucleus – is a rare thing these days; a true pioneer of a musical genre and subculture. That genre, whether you think it’s a swear word or not, is Emo (FYI readers born this millennium; emo is short for emotional rock, and the centerpiece of alternative culture throughout the early-to-mid 2000’s).

Despite emo’s myriad of subsequent sub-genres, Carrabba’s DIY punk ethics with a little less anger and a lot more heart forged a new timbre of catchy tunes, heart-rendingly melancholic lyrics, and a lofty musical shift away from the more grunge-infused early pre-emo-definitions of 90’s emotional rock bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, et al. The man was a poster boy for a unprecedentedly open and honest form of engrossing and commonly acoustic rock, and took over the world with it (and his remarkably handsome face, let it be said).

With all that in mind, it’s no surprise that his band’s 8th studio album is magnificent, and a testament to a truly singular songwriter who has honed his craft and remained relevant for over two decades in the industry. Having survived a very nasty motorbike accident in the summer of 2020, and leaving Dashboard on the shelf for a few years between albums, Chris recently expressed to WoS that ATTICT was written in such a way that there was no point during conception when he thought about what people would think of the end product. He wrote for himself, and discovered deeper truths within his life and place in the world as a result. After so much change in his life (one that nearly ended due to the aforementioned bike crash), this approach yielded affirming and cathartic results, as are apparent on an album that deftly treads between sadness, redemption, and a fairly large portion of low key hope throughout. Here’s a track-by-track breakdown…

Opening track ‘Burning Heart’ nails the brief; it’s extremely verbose and sweeping lyrics about optimistically missing a lover land perfectly over and over again across the song’s cantering and lone acoustic strumming. It’s a wonderful opener that sets a fine precedent for the rest of the album. The second half of this song was written in a creative fervor before a gig in Manchester, pre-Covid. So amped by the song being written, Chris immediately took to the stage that night and played the song for his audience brand new and unrehearsed. He credits the adulation it received with bolstering his spirits enough to confidently write the rest of the album.

‘Everyone Else Is Noise’ is quintessential Dashboard. It’s dueling-acoustic minor key progressions under a tale of someone rediscovering their confidence is a total winner, and like so many other DBC tracks, drips with optimism under a seemingly melancholic exterior. ‘Here’s To Moving On’ is a remarkably uplifting song about positive self-acceptance and a ripping first single off the album. The song really expresses the minutiae of time, place, and inner-monologue in harmonious equal measure. It’s a real watermark from an engrossing an established lyricist. ‘The Better Of Me’ deploys drums for the first time across and album that uses them sparingly but effectively. The full band lowers the tempo but ups the levity for a fine song about insecurity and introspective reassessment of one’s place in their own life.

‘Southbound And Sinking’ is bound to me a huge live crowd favourite. It’s punchy, catchy, and anthemically-inclined due to shoutier vocals and a jovial chorus. If Dashboard did a Bruce Springsteen cover, it might sound something like this really, very great track. ‘Sleep In’ is just above a whisper. Chris warbles easily in to the microphone like he’s talking gently to a lover in a quiet room about an early morning trip out in to a frozen city together for some food at a diner. It sounds like a love letter to his now-wife, but the joy of Carrabba’s songwriting is that the ambiguity of the who and why makes the song instantly more relatable. Who hasn’t had a memorable and secluded pre-dawn walk with a lover? If you haven’t, this song certainly gives you the gist. ‘Me And Mine’ is the epitome of a mature emo tune. Long gone is the heart-broken fawning over an unattainable teenage lover, instead replaced with a equally emotionally-affecting musical tale about how much Chris loves his family. It really is a very beautiful tune from a man in awe of how much he deeply enjoys his children, their life together, and how they keep him young. Despite being childless, this song left your reviewer with more than a few tears in his eyes.

‘Sunshine State’ is another affirming song about your place in life. It’s themes are driven by nostalgia, and uses Carrabba’s home state of Florida’s title as America’s ‘Sunshine State’ as a dual-meaning for geographic position and emotional state of mind. Another anthemic/ acoustic match up that delivers heavily on melody and will prove out as a live crowd favourite, for sure. ‘Pain Free In Three Chords’ sounds as though it riffs on the hurting/ healing journey surrounding Carrabba’s motorbike accident (though it could also been seen as a metaphor for a break up, or placing less pressure on oneself in general). The title leads this reviewer to believe this song was written to help make Chris less sad; something which the front man admitted in a recent interview could happen during song writing from time-to-time. He also declared he hoped people listened to Dashboard to feel less sad as well. This song will certainly deliver that energy to many listeners. ‘Young’ is about the reverence of growing older through the prism of dwelling on the wilder years of being youthful, emotional, and free. It’s a peaceful track backed with some lovely and light orchestral noise swirling in the background, which really fleshes the song out to stand alone on the LP with some resolute emotional brevity.

Eponymous album closer ‘All The Truth I Can Tell’ is a lengthy and drifting song that freely expresses Chris’ love for his fans in a very matter-of-fact and open manner. It sounds closer to a slow Death Cab For Cutie (circa Plans) track than anything thing else on the record, and very much ends in a welcomed-state of irresolution. Chris proclaims that he has more stories to tell, but has sworn himself to secrecy. Here’s hoping that oath doesn’t last too long, because Dashboard’s stories are some of the finest this reviewer has heard in a while, and a welcomed return to world-class form for the band.

Dashboard Confessional – All The Truth That I Can Tell tracklisting:

1. Burning Heart
2. Everyone Else Is Just Noise
3. Here’s To Moving On
4. The Better of Me
5. Southbound and Sinking
6. Sleep In
7. Me and Mine
8. Sunshine State
9. Pain Free in Three Chords
10. Young
11. All The Truth That I Can Tell

All The Truth That I Can Tell is out now. Stream here
Review by Todd Gingell

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