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Dave Matthews Band release an excellent "Away From The World"

By Lynn South
On September 25, 2012

  • The album cover to Away From The World. www.rollingstone.com

   The eight studio album by American jam-group Dave Matthews Band begins with a serpentine guitar riff, backed with soft shaking maracas and a pounding beat that soon give way to the cool, smooth vocals fans have come to love. "Sometimes the road is crystal/sometimes I feel like I'm losing my mind," lead singer/guitarist Dave Matthews confesses on the opening track, "Broken Things." As the song continues, its sound devolves into a slower, jazzier rock track overlapped with Matthews' wailing vocals, furthering the band's "signature sound."

   "Away From the World" is the much anticipated follow-up to 2009's Grammy nominated hit, "Big Whiskey and the Gru Grux King." This new album is already getting a lot of coverage, with the band wrapping up an extensive summer tour that allowed them to debut a few new songs, and make their way around the late night show circuit. In April, the song "Mercy" was played for the first time on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon;" and in May, the band released "Gaucho" online to an incredibly eager fan base. Since their tour started in late spring, these songs were put on the nightly rotation, and thanks to fans who recorded parts of the concert, these new tracks made their way to those not fortunate enough to see DMB live. This album has several potential hits, which will undoubtedly reignite the fire in old fans, and may even rope in some new listeners as well.

   "Don't give up, I know you can see...all the world and the mess that we're making," Matthews croons on the popular slow-jam, "Mercy." This tune pulls you in from the get-go, with a smooth saxophone line complimenting the crisp vocals provided by Matthews and crew. It is by no means loud or in your face, but it grabs your attention, forcing you to hit the replay button over and over. In recent interviews, Matthews has admitted that maturity has prompted him to create more substantial lyrics that break away from their older themes. When the band first gained popularity in the late nineties, lyrics reflected heartache, journeys through love and friendship, while their latest messages reflect sociopolitical ideologies, current headlines and an encouragement to make this world a better place.

   Both fans and critics are buzzing about "World", raving that the sound is reminiscent of their 1996 hit album, "Crash," which spawned one of their most well known hits, "Crash Into Me." The easily distinguishable guitar riffs, memorable choruses, and heartfelt howling of Matthews's vocals is what reminds fans of the sound they have come to know so dearly, and is what keeps them craving for more.

   On the album's second track, "Belly Belly Nice," we're introduced to a funkier jazz sound, with a rhythmic bass line pumping loud behind trumpets, saxophone and a staccato drumbeat. "Sweet" begins with a low-pitched horn, similar to that of a tug boat lost at sea, then turns to a ukulele backed Matthews' for a chance to mellow out mid-record. "The Riff," my personal favorite, is a bare-bones track, beginning with barely audible strings and a guitar pattern hidden behind chilling vocals; the instruments later gain power, but they are still second-string to one of Matthews' most powerful vocals to date.

   If you're a long-time fan, you'll undoubtedly get the sound you love so dearly, if you're a casual listener, you may be able to find another song or two that will make its way onto your "favorites" playlist and even if you're a first-timer, I can almost guarantee that you will find something you'll love. "Away From the World" allows the Dave Matthews train to keep on rolling, gaining speed and rambling on without an end in sight.


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