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Chicago Tribune Reviews Everyday

"I Did It," Matthews sings on the opening track and first single from his fifth studio album. You sure did, Dave. Now there can't be any doubt about where you fit on the rock planet -- just another mainstream rock act catering to rock-radio formula. Longtime defenders of Matthews should be surprised, if not offended by "Everyday," which buffs out whatever quirks the band once had -- in particular the violin and sax voicings of Boyd Tinsley and LeRoi Moore -- and tightens all the songs to compact, mildly tuneful four-minute midtempo ditties. "Everyday" is designed to compete for commercial radio time with other corporate rock bands such as Matchbox Twenty and Train, and I have no doubt that it will. The singer had his most profitable year of touring in 2000 ($68 million) without extensive radio or MTV support, and then scrapped a nearly finished, more traditional sounding Matthews album with longtime producer Steve Lillywhite to redo the whole thing with Glen Ballard, whose work with Aerosmith and Alanis Morissette stamps him as one of the most calculating hitmakers in the business. Ballard co-wrote every song with Matthews, and the producer's imprimatur is all over "The Space Between," a first-class slice of melodramatic power balladry. What all this has to do with Matthews' past as a quirky folk-jazz troubadour is beyond me. The focus is much more on the singer's sensually offbeat baritone voice and lyrics, at the expense of the free-flowing excursions that once delighted jam-band fans. I don't miss that overrated aspect of the Matthews sound, but this album goes too far in the opposite direction. What was once the Dave Matthews Band has become the Matthews Corporate Rock Machine: bland, predictable and coming to a stadium near you.

-Greg Kot