Not just your “everyday” band

By the

March 15, 2001

From the outset you know that Dave Matthews Band is up to something different. The album cover is nouveau and glossy, with Dave himself fronting, well, his band. You play the CD, and the sound of electric guitar shocks your ears. You flip through the album, waiting to hear that classic acoustic twang, with some violin jams in the background. But it’s not there. You sigh disappointedly, sit down, and listen to the songs, wishing they hadn’t let you down.

But soon enough, you like it. You play it over and over. Everyday. Everday.

Dave Matthews Band’s first album since 1998’s jazzy Before These Crowded Streets is an experiment that works, so all you Abercrombie-wearing Wrangler-driving frat boys won’t have to worry. DMB has taken their new producer, Glenn Ballard, and put out a bunch of 4-minute songs that surprisingly demonstrate the talents of each band member. Contrary to what music snobs may say, DMB hasn’t sold out??they maintain the same flair and adaptability as they had way back when, playing at Traxx in Charlottesville or The Flood Zone in Richmond.

They’re just trying something new.

Behind the harder sound lies the same thoughtful lyricism of Matthews, who usually sings about love and self-discovery, two sappy topics that become pretty powerful with the versatile band backing him up.

The lack of jamming is noticeable, especially on the pop radio single “I Did It,” which is dominated by Matthews’ simple verses (“I did it/Guilty as charged”) and his own electric riff. In fact, the track may be the weakest on the album, fashioned in the same mold as “Too Much” and “Don’t Drink the Water” to draw in pop fans nationwide.

The album shines on efforts like “So Right,” where the guitar takes second stage to the effects of the rest of the band, in this case the wailing saxaphone of Leroi Moore. It has that cathartic Dave Matthews feeling, the one that makes you want to speed down the highway on a summer day with the windows down. On “What You Are,” Boyd Tinsley’s violin and Stefan Lessard’s bass provide a darker climate for one of Matthews’ more pensive songs. Suprisingly, Lessard, who was just 16 when DMB was formed, seems better suited to Everday’s rocking than to eclectic jamming. But he does them both so damned well.

And that’s what is so amazing about this album. The band parts from tradition but sounds so similar and, at times, better. Everday works like a well-oiled machine??each part of the band has a necessary function, and all will fail without it. It just flows.

“The Space Between” is the album’s romantic cut, and again, the electric sound seems to fit perfectly. “Mother Father” features Carlos Santana, and has a noticeable Latin sound with Carter Beauford banging on some bongos. A more thoughtful Matthews seeps through these songs, especially with lyrics like “Mother, father please explain to me/How this rare world came to be/A place so full of color/Yet always overflowing in black and white.” Apparently the South African expatriate is finally coming of age, rejecting his Charlottesville bar-gig days of old. He’s married, too, so stop obsessing.

So Dave is all grown up, but he shows no signs of slowing down. Everyday opened at number one on the Billboard charts. And as if the millions upon millions of record sales aren’t enough of an indicator, how about the fact that DMB’s summer tour kickoff in Charlottesville sold out in 27 minutes.

As a band that stands out among the drivel of stubble-goateed boy bands and leather-pants-wearing prima-donnas, DMB draws in so many fans because of their pure talent. They meld so many musical components into a single smooth burst of emotion. They are a veritable grab-bag of music culture, taking snippets from rock and jazz and mixing them with legitimate song-writing to form a group that can jam or pop, thrill or sadden.

Everyday takes that ability into the true mainstream, but the band proves that they aren’t about to forsake their style for any amount of money. The fans will come because they want that style, that talent, and chances are, they’ll be given something better than they expected.

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