- by Nate Hennon
I am sure most reviews of Dashboard Confessional's "Crooked Shadows" are going to mention something about "it's been 8 years since....", but I want to avoid that as much as possible. However, it is noteworthy that Chris Carrabba has not done anything official under the moniker that blasted him into the public lexicon in nearly a decade. That is not to say he has not been busy. Since 2009's "Alter the Ending", Carrabba reunited with his “first band", Further Seems Forever, dabbled in folk rock wiith Twin Forks, re-released his debut album, "The Swiss Army Romance", and had a bunch of awesome hairstyles. It was not until 2017, Carrabba focused his energy on new Dashboard music. Maybe it was the unofficial hiatus or the re-release of "The Swiss Army Romance" that gave him the charge to restart the Dashboard train, regardless, "Crooked Shadows" is worth the wait.
Previously Dashboard's albums went through phases of small and intimate songs to big and bold productions. Sometimes this pattern would last a few album cycles, "The Swiss Army Romance" and "Places You Come to Fear the Most" being smaller in scale versus the bigger production of "A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar" and "Dusk & Summer", or single albums. Nevertheless, "Crooked Shadows" does not stick to one style, it somehow manages to be both big and intimate all while being small and bold. Maybe this is due to Carrabba returning to reflexive songwriting or being more comfortable in his later career. Either way, I find "Crooked Shadows" to be a super compelling album that will stick in the 'plus' category for me for a long time to come.
That said, "Crooked Shadows" is not without its faults. I can see some criticism being placed on the fact that it took nearly a decade to produce 9 tracks (for you math nerds that is almost a song a year). Maybe my expectations of Dashboard are high, but Carrabba has written twice as many songs in a third of the time in the past. Yes, he has written a lot of music with various people for various projects in the interim, but they were not Dashboard. Silly criticism, but I can't be the only reaching this conclusion.