Matthews outshined in comeback album
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Album: Away From The World
Release Date: Sept. 11
Dave Matthews is one lucky front man.
DMB’s first release in three years, Away From The World, is more of a testament to the skill of the other members of the world-renowned jam band than it is to the song-writing skills of Dave himself. In fact, it’s the rest of the band and not Matthews that makes the album worthwhile.
Produced by Steve Lillywhite, Away From The World is a musical time-travel back to the days when funky guitar riffs and festive horns littered each album’s track list. Lillywhite is famous among DMB fans as the man responsible for producing the band’s earliest and arguably most adored albums. Long-time fans will definitely appreciate his influence, woven subtly throughout each track.
The album starts off strong enough with “Broken Things”, a tune in which Dave laments about today’s world but then comforts himself with thoughts of his lover. “Belly Belly Nice” follows, and is a sax-heavy sex-invite that falls short lyrically but is sure to have you dancing. Upon first listen, the quickly plucked introduction to “Rooftop” sounds like it could fit right onto the band’s first album Under the Table and Dreaming (UTTAD).
However, as the album progresses, Dave’s signature acoustic talent becomes harder to appreciate alongside the clichéd, cheesy words coming out of his mouth.
At the end of vaguely Latin-sounding “Gaucho,” a chorus of children join him in singing the lines “We gotta do more than believe/if we really wanna change things.” While Matthews is known to be one of the more socially aware musicians in the business, lyrics such as these come off as half-hearted attempts to incite change and ultimately taint what would be an otherwise enjoyable song.
Dave Matthews Band is often criticized because of Matthews himself – his crazy on-stage antics, his mainstream appeal, and of course, his singing voice. His fellow band mates, however, rarely share the same response from haters because each one’s musicianship is undeniable.
Saxophonist Jeff Coffin had big shoes to fill, taking the late (great) LeRoi Moore’s spot in the band after his tragic death in 2009. However, listening to songs like “Drunken Soldier,” which feature outrageous sax solos, fans will be comforted knowing that Moore’s replacement is just as talented and soulful as the rest of the band.
Though Away From The World features less inevitable live-jam songs than other albums might (again, think UTTAD), their energy and chemistry are apparent and will be much appreciated. It may be time for fans to accept the fact the “old-school” Dave Matthews Band is never going to release another album.
However, Away From The World is proof that though the magic of their youth might be gone, they’re still the talented, charismatic musicians they always were. And still the best of what’s around.