Sound — 9
Upon the first minute or so in, you're going to realise that this is indeed a true return to form for Mr. Carrabba, he manages to incorporate his old sounding raw acoustic emotions into a more maturely written album. I honestly think that anyone who hated the full band sound of the last 2 releases (myself included) will be thrilled to know that there's probably only 3 or 4 songs that bear a shred of resemblance to the old 'full band' style. However, as anyone whos heard 'the good fight', will tell you, Dashboard can indeed actually pull off a full band sound perfectly; and in a few select songs he does it perfectly. "These Bones" is actually one of my favourite tracks on the album. I've also read quite a lot of criticism towards "Fever Dreams", but honestly, it's a fantastic song! Just listen with a open mind, and see that it's Chris, trying something new, and pulling it off perfectly, it's going to appeal to new and old fans alike. Musically the songs are probably a slight less complicated (chord structure etc.) but this by no means is a bad thing, and should not be taken as a criticism, because the songs still carry that finesse that you're accustomed to, and it means that I can play along to most of the songs easier.
Lyrics — 9
The maturity of Chris' lyrics is blatantly, obvious from the minute the intro track is done, (and by the way, to my knowledge is 'one of' the first to feature something besides the usual themes of missing someone and etc). All of the songs are beautifully delivered with some of his best vocal performances to date. There's no real way to describe the feeling that you get from 'connecting' with a dashboard song, and whilst I did'nt have any moments like I have every time with "this ruined puzzle", I honestly do already feel like most of the raw acoustic songs are going to really grab people by the heart. It really is Chris at his best. The only gripe I have with the entire album is the song 'Matters of Blood and Connection': "Why do you speak with that accent now? /Everyone knows you're not from the streets" And no the above is not a sample from 50 Cents new CD, it's from the song in question, it's literally my least favourite Dashboard song (minus perhaps a few from Dusk and Summer).
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, it's a surprisingly fantastic album, and I couldn't recommended it enough to just about anyone who's a fan of music in general. A perfect blend is made between the older (better) songs, and with hints of the previous two albums. I don't want to make a list of 'best songs', because each holds it's own special place for it's own reason. However, the songs that currently hold the top and least played count from my iTunes library. If any older fans are holding back on picking this up after having a sour taste in your collectives mouths from 'Dusk And Summer', do yourselves a (collective) favour and buy it!