As the oppressive heat of summer in the South shows no signs of relenting, I long for crisp and cool autumn nights. This album takes me back not only to that glorious season, but also to a year in my life which began a personal renaissance.
I guess I can start by saying that this album isn’t actually among my favorites. I would probably only rank it three out of five stars. But as with much music, it’s about the memories and feelings it evokes, not necessarily the material itself. Dawn Escapes was originally released on October 25, 2005. This landed it squarely in the fall of my sophomore year of college, one of the first times I felt free to explore and express myself. For various reasons, my freshman year of college was somewhat of a throw-away year, particularly when it came to personal growth. So, freshly returned from summer break and unencumbered by the anchors of the past, I dove headlong into college life that semester.
I remember driving over to Rocketown with some friends to see Falling Up perform some of the new material. This was perhaps a couple of weeks before the record dropped. Upon hearing the new songs, the ethereal tones and guitar parts didn’t surprise me, but what did catch me off guard was the amount of piano and keys that were featured. While their debut offering had scant keyboards and programming, this release leaned on them heavily. Front-man Jesse Ribordy even mentioned from stage that they had tried to make a more pop-accessible record, which was disappointing to me as a blooming emo-kid. To this day I wonder if label pressure was the reason for the shift. Still, I enjoyed the show and looked forward to the album, even pre-ordering it, if my memory serves me correctly.
Despite the changes from its predecessor, Dawn Escapes is by no means a bad album. It contains all the core elements from Crashings, and there is nothing simplistic about the songs or composition. Despite the electronic base, there is also a bit of edge; it’s a far cry from The Postal Service. Ribordy’s clear voice delivers cryptic lyrics over distorted guitars, synthesizers, and crashing cymbals, as well as pianos and percussion loops. Best of all, they didn’t include any rap vocal cameos this time around. Despite their young age, I still believe that Falling Up was writing mature music compared to their peers, even if they did borrow some elements from well-known mainstream acts.
Uncharacteristically, I don’t have a connection with many of the words on this album. Instead, it is the spacey atmosphere that takes me back to driving around Nashville with the windows down, cool and crisp air flooding into the car to match the ethereal sounds. I savor the memories of that season, which was in many ways a time of rebirth and renewal for me.
You can find the electronic and keyboard-infused rock of Dawn Escapes on Spotify or Amazon.