Having been involved in a serious motorcycling accident in 2020, few could lament Chris Carrabba for being in a reflective mood. The Dashboard Confessional frontman has seen himself become a mainstay of the emo-pop genre, having first gained prominence with the 2000s The Swiss Army Romance.
The eighth Dashboard Confessional album, All The Truth I Can Tell, showcases Carrabba in this reflective mood, contemplating the past while looking towards the future. Although Carrabba wrote the album before his near-fatal accident, after which he had to relearn how to play the guitar, much of it takes on greater significance considering what the forty-six-year-old has experienced over the last two years.
The album opens with 'Burning Heart' which immediately sets out the mood of self-assessment with Carrabba singing, "I just feel heavy", with obvious regret at the way a relationship has ended, illustrated by lines such as; "I see you everywhere I go".
The pace picks up with 'Everyone Else is Just Noise' during which Carrabba questions, "Can I keep moving forward with all that mess in me?" and states his desire to; "hurt less and be loved more" and to "feel settled inside". While acknowledging what has happened in the past, there is a view to the future and a desire to develop by; "learning to like who I am." The willingness for growth continues through "Here's To Moving On", when Carrabba focuses on self-acceptance, stating; "here's to fighting less, here's to living more". Although the contemplation returns during "The Better of Me", which, in spite of the upbeat acoustic guitar, the Florida frontman emphasises that "life is hard" and "I was something, I swear it, before life got the better of me", clearly focusing on the past again.
'Southbound and Sinking' provides one of the album's highlights, with the line, "look at me letting all my feelings show", summarising the album's tone. Some of the pace and feeling built up during the first half of the album is lost during 'Me and Mine'. The delicate ballad about fatherhood is one of the longest songs on the album at almost five and a half minutes - although a touching story, it leaves a lingering feeling. However, the pace instantly returns with 'Sunshine State', a lively song that pays homage to the band's home state of Florida.
The title track closes the album with a focus on the present. With the majority of the album exploring the past, the line; "I'm nervous, I'll admit...but honestly I like that now" helps wrap up the journey on a note of contentment.
To hold a listener's attention over eleven gentle acoustic songs was never going to be an easy task, and while a couple of the songs may seem too gentle, Dashboard Confessional have succeeded in creating a deeply personal journey of introspective assessment that many will be able to relate to. The emo genre may often be viewed as one centred around adolescent angst, but All The Truth I Can Tell demonstrates that the same themes can be carried and prove poignantly relevant through middle-age.