Dashboard Confessional
The Shade of Poison Trees



by Iluvatar EMERITUS
October 2nd, 2007 | 17 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It's pretty and all, but "The Shade of Poison Trees" is still pretty much just another Dashboard album.

Anyone who tries to deny liking “Screaming Infidelities” is lying. I’ve said it before and will continue to say it, because that was a killer single that put Chris Carrabba, former head of Further Seems Forever and currently Dashboard Confessional, on the map. The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most is some of the best acoustic pop of the century, particularly that people actually like. Then a few albums later, Carrabba decided to take the acoustic act and expand it to a full band, and people begin to cringe a little bit. His last album in said format, Dusk and Summer, was a slight disappointment, still showcasing his excellent songwriting but suffering from a lack of energy.

Going back to the acoustic formula that made him famous, Chris Carrabba has steered Dashboard back into the acoustic pop realm with The Shade of Poison Trees. While there are still some songs that feature the full band, and for the most part you’ll at least find the rhythm section in a song, the focus is fully back on Carrabba and his guitar, which as any Dashboard fan will tell you is where it belongs. So, wait, why is The Shade of Poison Trees still not any better than their last few albums?

To put it simply, Chris Carrabba just cant make an album anymore. Everything here is pristine, pretty, and quite enjoyable to listen to. He always keeps the lyrics close to his heart and generally toeing the line in just the right direction between sappy and genuinely heartfelt. He uses his falsetto more than ever before, but that isn’t a bad thing and while old fans may be put off, it is really one of the higher points. So just what is wrong with an album that seemingly does everything right? Well, he really only wrote like 3 or 4 songs.

The album is just downright repetitive. Moreso on the non-acoustic tracks, its easy to have songs blend in with each other. The same raises in pitch, the same song progressions, the same cool little guitar licks, the same vocal techniques, the same topics about love, estrangement and betrayal that he’s been talking about since 2000, and well, he might use his falsetto a little too much. There’s nothing wrong with his formula, and individually there isn’t a bad song here to speak of. Then again, its really hard to pick out songs that stand out. “The Shade of Poison Trees” stands out because of an almost ethereal backdrop, and “Keep Watch for the Mines” is a little more accusatory than most songs on here, which is refreshing. But the only real standout is “Little Bombs”, a highly energetic song that actually sounds like he still has the conviction he had on The Swiss Army Romance and The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most.

All in all, The Shade of Poison Trees is a slight improvement over last years Dusk and Summer. The improvement comes from the moments where Carrabba returns to acoustic form, with the full band songs still disappointing slightly. Its hard to dislike anything here, but unfortunately its also hard to find anything memorable. As usual, dashboard puts out an album with a couple of very good songs, and a bunch of passable filler. Recommended for fans, but still has nothing on what Dashboard used to put out.

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user ratings (168)

Comments:Add a Comment 
October 2nd 2007


your hairrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, is everrrrryyywhereeeeeeee,
and taking its wear

good reviewThis Message Edited On 10.02.07

October 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

good review. I am very pleased that this album is much more like chris' old music. I almost hope on the next album he loses the whole band and records it just acoustic (maybe with a lil violin or piano tho). overall I think this is a pretty solid dashboard release!

The Jungler
October 3rd 2007


Dashboard have always had good singles, I've never been interested in listening to a full album though. I heard the single off this a little while ago, but don't really remember it.
Nice review.

October 3rd 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

I dont think ive ever heard a Dashboard single on the radio here now that I think about it.

Good review, although I do think Dusk and Summer was really good but im glad he dropped the band and did the acoustic thing again.

October 3rd 2007


Album Rating: 2.0

Dusk and Summer was way underrated because his moronic fans couldn't accept that not everyone wants to make the same album year after year after year.

Now he's decided that he basically can make the same album over and over, except actually he can't because this is sucky and over produced and polished where as his old stuff was a little rougher round the edges than your average heartfelt acoustic pop act, which made it better and more interesting.

Also this is Chris phoning it in so bad and the songs are so half assed. The single is the best song but the whole thing sounds like it was written in a weekend.

October 3rd 2007


its not that if he goes acoustic everything will be better, its that if he wrote songs like he used to it would be amazing. "the places you have come to fear the most is (imo) one of the best albums, but clearly he has lost all the emotion in his voice on this album, and aparently gotten caught in the "mainstream" world. the lyrics on this album suck for sure. its better than dusk and summer, ill give it that.


October 3rd 2007


you couldnt pay me enough to make me want to hear this album.

well, 20 bucks might work.

October 4th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Bad review altogether, You killed yourself right of the bat saying "its just another dashboard album". of course it is! Tells me your a brick of a reviewer.

October 5th 2007


He was only ever good on the first "Further Seems Forever" CD... I haven't liked any of his "Dashboard" stuff... Well, "Hands Down" was a good song.

Digging: The Birthday Massacre - Diamonds

October 5th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

i think that last comment was a little unessesary

October 17th 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

12 tracks, but it's like there's only 3 or 4 songs on here, they all just sound the same.

October 18th 2007


I'm very glad that Chris has decided to go back to just him and his acoustic, I've been waiting for it after Places You Have Come to Fear The Most. Though it's not totally back to where he was with standard lines, the places you have come to fear the most and all of his acoustic songs, I love the new album and hope that he continues on doing this- though it's unlikely since Dusk and Summer came out. Also, to whoever said that the first Further Seems Forever album was his only good one, shame on you *shakes head*

October 18th 2007


also, I am a bit dissapointed in the writing of the music. Like lunchforthesky said, it's a bit to polished unlike his older stuff which was more rough around the edges. But I do like it better than Dusk and Summer, though I like all the albums. Maybe, just maybe, he can find the sound that he used to have- i believe he can.

October 23rd 2007


his music might suck now, but he stay plays one helluva show

i just went to his first acoustic set in like a year, it was nice, very nice

November 16th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

i light my own fires now is a weird song.

February 18th 2008


I don't like screaming infidelities at all :-/

but then again I hate most acoustic.

April 24th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

With the full band sound of Dashboard Confessional's previous 2 albums receiving a mixed response, 5th LP 'The Shade of Poison Trees' attempts to head back towards the acoustic stylings of Chris Carrabba's earlier work. While this will please many loyal fans, the compromise is occasionally awkward, with the front-man's heart-on-sleeve emotion seeming a little blunted by Don Gilmore's slick production. Wisely, things are kept moving with only 1 track crossing 3 minutes, but even then, this solid & consistent LP gets somewhat repetitive & lacks multiple standouts. Recommended Tracks: These Bones, Matters of Blood and Connection & Keep Watch for the Mines.

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