"Time Spent in Los Angeles" is a perfect example of the paradox that the more specific a description is, the more universal its appeal. Though the majority of Dawes's listeners haven't lived in Los Angeles (or probably even visited the city), the bittersweet and yearning sentiment still affects them. The references to a particular city and emotions tied to it make the song much more potent than a vague location.
The song describes the singer's conflicting emotions for his hometown. In the chorus, he sings about a "special kind of sadness" and "tragic set of charms" that "only comes from time spent in Los Angeles." This presents a picture of the city as a difficult place to live, with its influence on its inhabitants clear from both their unique melancholia and their allure. The singer says that these traits make him want to "wrap [his addressee] in his arms," recognizing both the appeal of this kindred spirit and his desire to comfort her.
In the first verse, the singer describes how traveling has become his lifestyle and that he is always rushing. However, he reflects that this may have led him to find his addressee and helped him realize what he wants. The second verse describes how he's been avoiding his past in L.A. when people ask him, because of how much a person's hometown "says about a man." Finally, in the third verse, he tells how he used to believe that "someone would love [him] / for the places [he had] been," but now realizes that he's been missing something while living away from home.
The sound complements the lyrics well. The electric guitar opens the song off before fading for the first verse. Along with a a cymbal beat behind the lyrics, it crashes back to the forefront before the catchy and singable chorus takes over. By the time the singer gets to the reflective third verse, an organ fades in to punctuate the homesick lyrics.