Gabriel’s Dawn are one of the most exciting bands born of the Covid lockdowns- this month, they are releasing their first full length album and I can’t get enough of their twangy jangle pop.
Gabriels Dawn seamlessly blend aspects of 60s jangle, paisley underground, indie pop, alt-country and just a hint of psych. Singer Fran explains “We are all massive fans of 60s culture, music, films, art and fashion. That’s not to say we are stuck in that time period but I’d certainly love a Time Machine for day or two to go back there and experience it. Although we are all fans of UK 60s bands, The Beatles, Stones, Pretty Things, Kinks and the UK psych and freakbeat scenes, we all agree that US bands of that time appeal to us more. The Byrds, Love, Buffalo Springfield being the obvious ones but also bands like The Merry Go Round, The Beau Brummels and Penny Arkade. We also love The Monkees. However we follow that stem of music through the late 60s/early 70s country rock scene, right into the 80s Paisley Underground bands, into the late 1980s/early 90s melodic UK bands like The La’s, the Stone Roses, Teenage Fanclub, The Field Mice and The House of Loveand into the 2000’s with bands like The Coral, El Goodo and The Stands. We love music!”
The band have all known each other socially for years. Gudg and Fran had some songs and they asked Leon if he fancied adding some guitar and soon after Stuart jumped on board and Gabriel’s Dawn were officially born in 2020. Despite hailing from England, the band’s sound carries a clearly Californian influence- jangly Byrds style guitars, an early 70s folky, country-ish vibes all around. Gudg’s vocals are a warm, pure sound reminiscent of groups like The School or Camera Obscura, and a perfect compliment to the sound.
The production on the soon to be released self-titled album is fantastic. The band says that “The album was recorded throughout Lockdown with the band rarely being in the studio at the same time.” Which is surprising because it comes across as a live in studio recording and is incredibly polished. The tone of the guitars and the warmth of the vocals is really well executed and everything sits in the mix beautifully. The album was recorded and mixed by band member Leon Jones at his own studio in Stoke on Trent. Leon explains “There was temptation to farm out the mixing to someone else. However as we were recording during Lockdown and we had no real deadline I felt I wanted to have a crack at it. The obvious bonus is it was cheap but in addition it was good to have total control. I’ve had input from the rest of the band and we’re all very on point to the sound we wanted”.
Lyrically the album covers various themes. Escapism, lost love, Fran explains “I prefer people to listen to the lyric’s and interpret it the way it relates to them. Its no secret that ‘Loose Canyon’ for example is about yearning for a different time and place but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was written with Lockdown in mind. It was more a general feeling I have. But other songs cover love, loss and even peoples attitude to creating music”.
Standout tracks on the album include the opening and aforementioned “Loose Canyon”, which was released as the bands first single in 2020. Jangly rickenbacker guitars abound, and warm vocal harmonies make a perfect soundtrack for driving along some dusty roads in Joshua Tree in the early summer. Even the music video just nails the style and sound they’re going for- big sunglasses, suede, fringed jackets. I’m a sucker for hooks and male-female blended harmonies and Gabriels Dawn does these perfectly. There’s a warmth and purity in Fran’s voice that I really appreciate and that lends itself perfectly to the music. I’m also always a huge fan of songs that lead you to believe they’re coming to a close and then pick back up for a jam session at the end.
“We” is another favorite on the album- with it’s twangy slide guitars it leans just slightly into the alt country vibes. In the words of the band, it’s “a country tinged jangler and a nod to some of our fave Cosmic country influences such as Later period Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Gene Clark and Emmy Lou (plus a Booker T & the MGs style bass line…what’s not to like?!)” There’s a definite country lean to it, but a bouncing rhythm from the bass and drums keep things sounding 60s pop. A sweet love song tinged with twang, the Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris influence is clear here while still also sounding decidedly modernized. The band definitely does make its influences known, even in the music video- you can see several LPS propped against the bass amp, including The Byrds’ “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” and Primal Scream’s “Sonic Flower Groove”.
Gabriels Dawn are one of my favorite new bands to come out of the lockdown era. For this to be a first full length release, recorded mostly separately in the studio, really shows the strength of the musicians and the songwriting. Their self titled debut album sets itself up to be one of the best releases of 2022. It’s out May 30th, and is available to preorder now!