label: BMG / RCA
our score: 3.0 out of 5.0
A New Day
of Dave Matthews Band is a head scratching collection of contradictions.
Without fail, the five-piece, sonically unconventional collective
sells out stadiums whether in support of an album or not, yet
album sales of the band's previous releases have never matched
ticket sales. With the exception of tight, punchy radio hits like
"What Would You Say" and "Too Much," their
songs have consistently failed to crack the Top 40. Commercial
success was always one step away, but with its fourth release,
Everyday, the band is poised to take one confident leap
the ashes of a scrapped album recorded with former producer Steve
Lillywhite, Everyday teams Matthews and Co. with super producer
Glen Ballard. Infused with Ballard's pop sensibility, the band
has pared down its usual six- and seven-minute arrangements to
a collection of four-minute tunes tailor-made for radio air play.
Gone are the extended saxophone and violin solos of LeRoi Moore
and Boyd Tinsley, respectively, that had contributed to DMB's
signature blend of jazz, folk and world music. Matthews himself
has even broadened his arsenal by employing an electric baritone
guitar on the majority of the albums twelve tracks.
have had an unmistakable impact on the band's sound. While in
the past, Matthews' acoustic guitar offered little more than a
rhythm upon which Tinsley and Moore would layer more complex arrangements,
here his new electric melodies take center stage and push the
music in a rock-influenced direction. The album's first single,
"I Did It," is driven by a dirty, jangling riff uncharacteristic
of anything else in the band's history. By plugging in on "The
Space Between" and "Fool to Think," Matthews takes
songs that would have been sweet ballads reminiscent of the popular
"Crash Into Me" and gives them a sweeping power suitable
to both radio and concert settings.
electric evolution has strengthened his melodies, the improvement
comes at the expense of Tinsley and Moore, who are reduced to
background musicians. Though the latter manages to squeeze short
blasts of his baritone sax into the album's opening song, "So
Right," fans of Tinsley's charged violin will struggle to
find his contribution to Everyday. The musical reconstruction
may create a fresh take on the band's sound, but the violin's
omission takes away a large part of what made that sound so unmistakable.
be the first to admit lyrics are not his strong point. Although
he's singing a happier tune now, the band put such a priority
on altering the music's direction that he fails to stray far enough
from familiar subjects. His songs have always hinted at the light
at the end of the tunnel without ever stepping into it, but at
times on Everyday, he's standing smack dab in the middle
of the sun's rays. "So Right" is a rousing celebration
of a successful relationship - a subject rarely found in previous
songs. As he croons "Our love is so right / I won't waste
a minute here tonight / Our love is so right / And tonight my
dance is all about you," he finally gets the girl instead
of staring at her through her bedroom window.
The true test
of a band's staying power is its ability to change and evolve.
Though not a radical departure from previous releases, Dave Matthews
Band's latest is a sign that the days of fifteen-minute jams could
be behind them. But, there's a reason the band's concerts have
always been bigger sellers than their albums - the songs never
sound better than they do live. Until now, Matthews' studio sessions
merely served as dress rehearsals for his band's yearly touring
exodus. And with that in mind, the reaction of the band's core
fanbase will determine whether the new sound will propel DMB to
the commercial success it has never quite attained.