BOTTOM LINE The emo pioneers return older, wiser and still sensitive.
It’s been more than eight years since the last Dashboard Confessional album, but “Crooked Shadows” (Fueled by Ramen) erases that gap quickly, as singer-songwriter Chris Carrabba catches us up on his life like an old friend.
The songwriting is as personal and raw as ever, though the situations have changed. “We never learned to keep our voices down, no,” Carrabba declares in the anthemic “We Fight,” as he tries to remind people what an indie-rock scene can be. “We only learned to shout, so, we fight our way in and we fight our way out.”
He stretches musically as well, revving up the energy with the power-pop rocker “Catch You” and adding some swagger to the title track, though most land in the sweet spot of emotional, well-crafted ballads like “About Us” and “Just What to Say.”
While early Dashboard classics like “Hands Down” are so personal that it’s hard to imagine anyone but Carrabba singing them, new songs such as “Open My Eyes” could be hits for anyone from country singers to pop divas. “Crooked Shadows” puts Dashboard in the mainstream, showing how much both Carrabba and the mainstream have changed for the better.