As a payback to the fans, Dashboard Confessional returns to his roots with The Shade of Poison Trees that was recorded back in his home state of Florida in early 2007. With familiar song structures and lyrical content reminiscent of earlier releases, the new album presents a great opportunity to reconnect with the core base as the artist's mainstream appeal continues to broaden. The new release will coincide with a solo headlining tour with Augustana and fellow label mate John Ralston beginning on September 28th.
Chris Carrabba has an underlying message in "Where There's Gold,"the lead track on Dashboard Confessional's fifth album. The band's singer and songwriter speaks up about breaking from the routine of "lights and praise" and "curtain calls," all under the navigation of a pair of acoustic guitars that prove paramount on the 12-song record. For as much as Carrabba preaches the band aspect, Poison Trees
is as much a solo record as any in the Florida group's catalog. Dashboard recoils to the acoustic flair that marked its early output, with two of the stronger tracks--"Keep Watch for the Mines" and "Little Bombs"--skipping the rhythm section all together. Carraba still spews lyrics that seem governed by the opposite sex, asking, "Is there time to follow your heart?" in the Beatles-influenced title song, while laying down the "I love-you-today, you'll-love-me-tomorrow" gauntlet in the heartrending "The Rush." He still finds time to poke fun at the privileged elite on "Matters of Blood and Connection," a splendid ballad that segues into the album's best song, "Clean Breaks." Complete with its complicated lead and sprinkles of string instruments, it lies in contrast to the simplicity and blithe spirit of the record's remaining half-hour--but joins the other 11 songs directly in the wheelhouse of the Dashboard Confessional fervent. --Scott Holter