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Dashboard Confessional is an emo group started in 2000, by Chris Carrabba in Boca Raton, Florida, as a side project from his band Further Seems Forever

Dashboard Confessional

Chris Carrabba had written over a dozen new songs when he uncovered “We Fight,” the
opening track on Crooked Shadows, Dashboard Confessional’s seventh album. The song
became the launching point for each note that followed, the bar under which each track was
measured. It contains a dynamic force, a surging energy, that resonates throughout the
album, and reflects back on everything Dashboard Confessional has achieved in the past two
decades.


At first “We Fight” was simple in its intent, written about the Florida music scene where
Chris grew up. It was a place where everyone was accepted and no one was judged, a island
of inclusivity worth defending. Chris and his compatriots fought for the scene and fostered it,
encouraging individualism and non-judgment. But as Chris was writing it, the song
transformed into something bigger. “The election happened and suddenly the song felt
relevant because of this climate of intolerance and aggression and hate,” Chris says. “We
regressed as a nation to this place where people embrace backwards thinking. So the fight
that started in our scene still felt relevant. It seems like it’s going to last longer than we’d
like, but we have to stay here to fight.”

The eight songs that follow on Crooked Shadows, Dashboard Confessional’s first release
since 2009’s Alter The Ending, are connected, threaded together by the idea that it’s
essential to balance hope with anger. That we can reject the place where society has
recently fallen and find ways to lift ourselves back up. The album, recorded in Chris’s
basement over the past two years and produced by Chris and Jonathan Clark and coproduced
by Colin Brittain, feels intimate and emotionally wrought. The musicians weren’t
looking for perfection during the recording process. Instead, they focused on sincere
snapshots of the songs, many of which, like “Heartbeat Here,” were laid down only moments
after being written. The idea was to get as close as possible to the feeling Chris had while
writing the song when recording it.


“It reminds me of my first record,” Chris says. “I think there’s something people connected
to with that hand-crafted nature, possibly more than the later records. This was a chance to
combine the two schools of thought. It can be well done and homespun at the same time.”

The title from the album comes from “Crooked Shadows,” an intimate track Chris wrote with
Dashboard Confessional’s guitarist Armon Jay Cheek and Jonathan Howard. The inspiration
came to Chris during a walk around town with his wife. They weren’t getting along, possibly
because Chris had been away too long on tour, and there was an unspoken feeling of upset.
Suddenly the storm clouds broke and the sun filtered behind them, casting a shadow of two
people holding hands on a nearby staircase.

because Chris had been away too long on tour, and there was an unspoken feeling of upset.
Suddenly the storm clouds broke and the sun filtered behind them, casting a shadow of two
people holding hands on a nearby staircase.
“It was really beautiful,” Chris says. “I thought to myself, ‘Look how beautiful that is in its
imperfections.’ I realized that’s why our relationships works – because it’s imperfect but
beautiful and important enough that there we were holding hands anyway. It was a moment
where it wasn’t easy, but where we were still together not getting along. Those crooked
shadows were together in spite of it all.”


The closing track, “Just What To Say,” is the most personally revealing song Chris has ever
written – which, he knows, is a bold statement. The acoustic number is quiet and reflective,
looking inward in a way that feels deeply relatable. It’s about admitting and accepting flaws,
but it’s also about embracing the better aspects of your own humanity. “It’s my honest
assessment of who I am at my best and who I am not at my best,” the singer says. “It starts
with me not at my best, but I think I explain myself well enough that by the end you get a
better opinion of me.”

Crooked Shadows feels like the opening of a new chapter in Dashboard Confessional’s
career, but it also revisits their past. For Chris, there were several roads the band could have
walked down after the success of their first few albums. They picked one – and he’s grateful
for that – but he’s always wondered what was down the other roads. Crooked Shadows is
one possible answer to that question. It’s also a reminder of the band’s skill when it comes
to penning deeply and unabashedly emotional songs, an aesthetic that influenced countless
younger artists. Over the years, Dashboard Confessional has made it enviable to bare your
soul in a song and to be unashamed of any feelings that may arrive. Chris and his fellow
musicians have found a new perspective on the world in these songs, one that only comes
with more life experience, but those exposed emotions remain.


“I’m searching for answers to questions I haven’t even thought of,” Chris says. “A lot of
writers are trying to discover who they are and what their place is in the world – that’s part
of the inquisitive nature of people who gravitate to artists expression. It’s exhilarating
because not having the answers is the impetus to writing songs. When I sit down to write I’m
in that place where I can attempt to describe the search for the answers – or the answers
themselves. It’s hard to pinpoint which one you get in a song, even when you’ve written that
song, but it’s the reason I do this.”