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With three years passed and a new producer at the helm, the Dave Matthews Band find themselves stretching beyond the borders of Before These Crowded Streets to more emotionally explorative territory. On Everyday, Matthews's clenched-jaw delivery has an unrelenting constancy that's cunning and determined. "I Did It," opens the CD in an aggressive groove, while "When the World Ends" follows with clipped licks that dive into a muddier, open-flowing chorus. From there on out, the floodgates open into something that often recalls Peter Gabriel, which is ironic, given that the band replaced producer Steve Lillywhite, whose work with Gabriel is legendary, with Glen Ballard, whose work with Alanis Morissette is of equal note, if not acclaim. The album is Gabrielesque in scope, from Matthews's deepening rasp to the epic instrumentation. Yet, what's lacking is Lillywhite's ability to capture a sense of naked honesty. Instead, Ballard dresses down the tracks in designer-suit production, unable to save a band that might simply not be up to the task on such an ambitious sonic endeavor. That, combined with Matthews's tendency to eschew conventional hooks, leaves the album stalled between the group's jam-band compulsion and radio-friendly packaging. To capture the latent majesty of this album, you're going to have to hear it live, and with this band, that's always been precisely the point.

-Beth Massa

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