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EVERYDAY, the much-anticipated 4th studio album from Dave Matthews Band, finally sees the light of day February 27.  The long-overdue album took the fast track to fruition after the band parted ways with longtime producer, Steve Lillywhite, and jumped into bed with super-producer Glen Ballard (of Aerosmith and Alanis fame).  The change in direction comes after 5 years, 3 studio albums and 1 live disc with Lillywhite, whose production had become heavy-handed in recent years.  The band's carefully crafted reinvention is a decidedly fresh, albeit ultra-commercial disc, slickly produced for mass consumption. 

EVERYDAY was written entirely by Matthews and Ballard, the duo going so far as to scrap new favorites like "Bartender," "Grace is Gone" and "Grey Street," which rose to popularity during the Summer 2000 tour, and were slated for the ill-fated Lillywhite release.  With 12 songs written and recorded in 6 1/2 weeks, EVERYDAY boasts all new material that has never been road-tested, and foregoes the extended jamming of the band's 'grass' roots.

Overall, EVERYDAY has a new approach.  The production is crisp and deliberate, and musical elements are used sparingly.  If you're hoping for long violin solos from Boyd Tinsley and sax solos from LeRoi Moore, you're going to be disappointed.  Even Carter Beauford tames his fusion-style drumming for a less busy groove. The sound is tightly packaged and not unlike the pop rock that has defined the early sound of the 21st century, with a throwback to late 80's arena rock.

Funky songs like "So Right" and "What You Are" should perform well on the Top 10, the latter a tirade-of-a-song that has all the potential of becoming a powerhouse-of-a-live-anthem.  Definitive touches like the tricky time signatures of "Sleep to Dream Her" and "Fool to Think" keep the album interesting.  Wrenching out clear, strong lyrics ("If I had it all, you know I'd fuck it up"), Dave triumphs vocally as well.  With his now-trademark gravelly voice, unusual phrasing and soaring choruses, his ever-developing style has made him one of the more distinctive vocalists of his generation.

The term 'all new material' is a debatable one; listen for "#36" as the backbone to the title track, "Everyday," while the first few chords of "Angel" recall a one-time live intro to "Jimi Thing."  And note the painful, wailing chorus from "Little Thing" woven into the otherwise jazzy, syncopated "Dreams of Our Fathers," creating a strange counterpoint to its clever, rhythmic core. Some of that stuff is awfully familiar.

Bottom line:  EVERYDAY doesn't suck. "The Space Between," the tender, ethereal second single, would have made a stronger debut, but hey, no one's perfect.  While nothing has paralleled the 'magic' of 1994's UNDER THE TABLE AND DREAMING, EVERYDAY comes the closest yet.  Regardless of album sales and charts, the best barometer of EVERYDAY's success will be how well these songs translate live, and how well they evolve over time.

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