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Dave Matthews Band just keeps the ball rolling. Releasing their eighth studio album Away From the World on September 11, I took the honor to review it. This band, going 21 years strong, has suffered loss, endless touring, and immense popularity, but keeps finding ways to come up with great music.
Although Away From the World sold 266,000 copies in its opening week, mild compared to their previous album Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, which sold double that amount, it was enough for the band to secure the number one spot on the Billboard 200. This made Away from the World DMB’s sixth consecutive album to debut at number one, setting a new record.
I like Away From The World a lot. For the most part, it keeps the tempo down throughout the album and keeps it simple. It doesn’t offer too much over the top musical wise that DMB is known so well for, with their jam band satire as heard in “Broken Things” and “Belly Belly Nice.” Following a big album such as Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, DMB taking a step back makes for a good listen. The lyrics are great as always, and offer a very relaxing atmosphere.
One notable thing about Away From the World is the band brought back hit producer Steve Lillywhite to work on the album. Lillywhite produced immensely successful Dave Matthews Band albums such as Under the Table and Dreaming, Crash, Before These Crowded Streets.
The leading single off the album is “Mercy.” It’s a sweet song, singing of hope and overcoming, but it’s also quiet and simple. It’s nothing to go crazy for, but nothing to dislike. The second single off the album is “If Only,” another relatively quiet song, mostly just Matthews and his guitar. The song is a lonely tune of him hoping to get his past love back, presumably after a break-up. It’s not the best song lyrically, but it’s still a nice little track.
The album through and through is a good listen. I’d say my favorites other than “Mercy,” the leading single, actually are consecutive tracks on the album as followed. “Sweet” is just a sweet simple song, showcasing Matthew’s serene voice and a ukulele strum. “The Riff” is a light tempo heartbreak song urging his sweetheart to “please don’t leave me,” and then picks up the pace toward the end of the track ending with some power. It has a hopeless and helpless vibe and I believe is the heart of the whole album. It ends with some high tempo rock to end out the song and sets a sense of anger, leading the way for the next track. “Belly Full” is once again a more quiet track. Pretty much seamlessly toning down the pace to the end of “The Riff” but picking up lyrically as if the album is a person, and he simply calmed down. It's Matthews and his lone guitar strum just wanting to spread his love and promising the world to someone in the hopes that they’ll take him back.
The deluxe version of the album offers live tracks of “Gaucho,” “Mercy,” and “Sweet,” if anything to simply show the talent that Dave Matthews Band exhibits. Listening to the record is only half the experience, the rest is to attend one of their many concerts and experience them firsthand because there really aren’t many things like it. I mean after all, there’s a reason the band has eight studio albums, compared to an astounding 18 live albums.
Away From the World flows seamlessly. One track picks up right where the other left off. It seems like this album came entirely straight from the heart, because you feel the hurt and hope throughout, and you have to appreciate that. So my final summary is listen to this album, it may not be the best DMB has to offer, but it’s still worth a listen. Then for new listeners, listen to the band's past albums, and attend a live Dave Matthews Band concert. That’s the best advice I can give.
Dave Matthews Band - "Mercy":