Tuesday, September 11, 2012

DMB "Away From the World" Review - B+

Dave Matthews Band released their eighth studio album together on Tuesday titled "Away From the World."  Its a very eclectic mix of new and classic DMB sound from start to finish, which makes it pretty sweet journey to listen through multiple times.

Right off the bat, the CD opens with "Broken Things," introducing the album with a tricky guitar riff and a heavy baritone sax.  After Boyd Tinsley and his violin took a backseat on their last album, "Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King," he comes in with a classic solo after the second chorus.

The mood gets picked up fast on the second track, "Belly Belly Nice."  Its a quick and funky track, with a sound Dave Matthews has been working to perfect since his album "Everyday."  The electric guitar, strange lyrics, horns and an awesome hook?  I can't get enough.

The album never really slows down, but there are some tight turns to take into consideration around the track, "Mercy," released as a single a few weeks ago.  The song is very lyric-heavy, straying away from what listeners are used to from Matthews and company.  Its saving graces in Carter Beauford and Rashawn Ross on percussion and trumpet/keys respectively situate it nicely early on in the album, but should not represent the album as a single.

Its nice to hear guitar riffs as the driving force behind most of the songs on this album, something that led Matthews to his huge success early on.  Steve Lillywhite produced the album after working with the band on their first three studio albums, so I estimate some of that can be attributed to him.

"Sweet" is just a great song.  It almost seems like it doesn't belong in the album, especially the fifth track in, but its such an easy-going song, that comes together at the end with some percussion and a horn riff that I can't stop listening to it.  Closer to the end of the album, "Rooftop" brings back memories of "Drive In, Drive Out" and "Satellite" simultaneously in its intro, then hits heavy with a little bit of a breakdown in the chorus.  It has everything you're looking for on this CD.

Stefan Lessard (bassist) completes the original band members along with Matthews, Tinsley and Beauford. Ross, Jeff Coffin (saxophone, flute), and longtime collaborator Tim Reynolds (guitar) round out the group featured on the album.  "Away from the World" is available on iTunes, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone, even first-time DMB listeners.  Not the best spot to start, but has enough mix to at least be able to give fans a few songs to chalk up as all-time favorites.

Highlights: "Belly Belly Nice"
                    Beauford's percussion
                    Back to true Tinsley violin sound
                    Horns found their sound

Lowlights:  "Mercy"
                    Lyric-heavy songs, almost political at times

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