Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Title: “Away From the World”
Format: Vinyl (Spotify)
What happened to the Dave Matthews who kept writing lyrics until he said “Ugh?”
Most of what makes a record worth listening to is the music itself, but Matthews’ lyrics have descended from pontifications about Manifest Destiny and existential crises to hokey Hallmark sentiments, lascivious bluntness and simple politically conscious platitudes.
“Me and you and you and you just wanna be free, yeah, yeah, but, you see, all the world is just as we’ve made it,” babbles Matthews on “Mercy,” the piano-based dud lead single from the band’s eighth studio LP, “Away From the World.”
From a production standpoint, however, DMB fans have much to be excited about. The Virginia group returns Steve Lillywhite, whose studio wizardry makes DMB sound fresh and vibrant.
Still, things lack the transcendence of previous efforts with Lillywhite. Album closer “Drunken Soldier” starts promisingly, but falls victim to being directionless, squandering the glorious buildup of its first few minutes.
“Don’t waste time trying to be something you’re not,” Matthews crows on “Soldier.” After a decade of cutting albums dabbling in pop fluff, R&B production and rock, at least “Away” finds DMB trying to be itself again.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.