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C'mon and Feel Free 2 Be DMB
Dave Mathews Plugs In

CRITICS HATED ALL of it—the populism of Matthews’s appeal and the fan population itself. Which explains, at least in part, why his albums always take a critical thwacking: it’s payback. The singer can’t get any love for his ravishing voice—even though he can fill a simple chorus, like “our love is so right,” on the band’s new CD, “Everyday,” with such passion it’ll make your toes curl. Such moments are DMB (as fans call ‘em) in classic form.

Alas, the rest of “Everyday” is not, and if Matthews gets another critical thwacking, at least this time he deserves it. Of the CD’s 12 tracks, only a handful makes a deep impression. “I Did It,” the first single, is a total dud: all swagger, no heart. And devotees will be mortified to hear 16 minutes pass before LeRoi Moore and Boyd Tinsley, authors of the band’s trademark sax-and-violin two-punch, make any real contribution. For this album, the band’s fifth, DMB brought in megaproducer Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette) to help pump up the volume. But the result is a melody-free CD built around the instrument on which Matthews & Co. are least proficient: electric guitar. It’ll send even their loyal army back to the sidelines.

-Devin Gordon

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