Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
“Life is like a Dave Matthews album, Forrest. You never know what you’re gonna get.” As this truth about life resonates with each of us from Forrest Gump, so it is for the faithful fan of the Dave Matthews Band. With a collection of eclectic musical expression that spans almost 20 years, the group has tested most genres of music that produces live shows that draw upon most human emotions. Even when sampling one particular record, one cannot rest into any single pattern of listening.
If “variety” can be named as the number one quality of The Dave Matthews Band, “live” would run a close second. The Dave Matthews band is a live band. With an incredible collection of 18 live recordings, they make it quite clear what recording medium fits them best. Touring extensively to support demand, they have shown that video and radio are not always the best outlets to find success in today’s music industry.
With their first release in almost three years, the band returns with another diverse collection of songs that prove they are continuing to explore the range of talents that each member possesses. “Away From the World” especially reveals more of the musical personalities of saxophonist Jeff Coffin and trumpeter, Rashawn Ross; added to the band after the tragic loss of LeRoi Moore who was killed in an ATV accident in 2008. Moore’s distinctive sound covered the bands entire horn section, creating part of the bands signature sound. Both Coffin and Ross follow in Moore’s tradition, but seem to have settled into their own style as well.
Reminiscing on the first time I listened to the bands previous release, “Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King”, and my first taste of the new release yesterday, I was struck with the contrast in reaction. While “Big Whiskey” produced a more instantaneous reaction of “Awesome!”, “Away From the World” slowly grew on me, lulling me into the eventual agreement that this is “a great album!”
There is a clear departure to a simpler restrained sound as evidenced by the bands reunion with Steve Lilywhite, who produced the band’s first three albums. The stripped down subtlety that covers the entire recording begins with “Broken Things”, an old school Matthews tune with a familiar crooning chorus, “Oh my love my heart is set on you, set on you”
The album’s first single, “Mercy”, is a typical plea that imparts Dave’s passion for social transformation with love being the catalyst of change. It’s a refreshing change from some of his more idealistic visions to musically change the world, in that he realizes we “Can’t lay down and hope a miracle will change things” and “Can’t give up and hope God will intercede”. But individually, and joining together in unity, “one by one, could we turn it around”.
Overall, the album is filled with images of nostalgia fueled by realistic hope. There is a taste of his typical signature erotic sex/food tunes, with a fun funky beat on “Belly Belly Nice”. It takes you back. It brings you forward. Like many of his old school fans, Dave is growing up. His band is growing with him, and they are all finding comfort in their own skin.
Photo: Fergus McDonald/Getty Images.