Dawn Fuss – Maybe (EP)

“Growing Pains” begins Maybe in a bold way. Any of these songs could have worked as the EP opener, but it’s arguable that any could set listeners on the journey this release takes on the way that “Growing Pains” does. He comes out in a big way, like the boxer swinging as they come out of their respective corner, and lays his predicament on the line for listeners. He feels overwhelmed by the moment, his coming of age, and wants to share it with the audience.

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He does so with attention-grabbing language. The idea of growing pains being so severe that they break bones and feeling too big for your body imparts a poetic level of physicality to the experience that’s difficult to forget. The music sounds too big for a pop song, it’s practically bursting at the seams, and Fuss’s exuberant voice matches its intensity. He’s brilliantly alive in the moment of creation.

The chorus for “Life Sucks” has a couple of different permutations. Each one is especially distinguished by a vocal melody that inexplicably makes me recall the Beach Boys. Perhaps it’s the California connection. His sense of humor, biting and unique, rises to the surface here, but beneath the wit is a valuable life lesson that he houses within another compelling musical vehicle. “Maybe” is a stunning realization of his talents. He feels this song like no other cut on the release, and the arrangement, especially the song’s chorus, gives his personal reflections about new chapters in life dramatic resonance that’s impossible to overstate.

He lets his rockier influences take the high ground for “Oblivious”. It hinges musically on the melodic guitar motif that you hear throughout the performance, and his ability to write a complimentary vocal melody for it is the crowning touch. “Say the Words” is another of the EP’s “relationship” songs, and it portrays Fuss as looking towards a future together with family and children while his partner seems content to remain a free-roaming spirit. The understated end of love looms large over the piece.

Change is in the offing throughout this release. It’s to his credit as an artist that Fuss can write and sing about it from multiple perspectives. Maybe has worlds to offer an open-minded listener. Fuss’ musical arrangements are colorful, often hard-hitting, and never lack inspiration. His vocals are inspiring as well. Dawson Fuss is at the beginning of his musical voyage still. It’s tantalizing to imagine how much higher he can soar because Maybe scales peaks that many of his veteran and much older peers are lucky to ever reach.

Mark Druery