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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Label: RCA Records
Everyday will be remembered as the album when Dave Matthews picked up an electric guitar, and the band was never the same. The renaissance is apparent from the dirty little riff that sparks "I Did It," the opening track from the band's new disc. The riff collides into Dave's swaggering vocals for a nifty-- and surprisingly brief-- song exploring the ironies of love as terrorism. It soon becomes apparent that Everyday still has all the components of classic DMB, but tighter and more focused. The jam groove which usually lasts for two minutes is trimmed impressively to 2 bars in "I Did It" and before you know it, the song has ended breathlessly. Instead of the complex atmospheric acoustic guitar textures that made the band famous, these are fatter sounds, thick bass and drum grooves with electric guitar slapped down on top of them, like on "When the World Ends." Even Dave's vocals have more punch to them.
The heart of Everyday, though isn't just its departure from traditional DMB fare. It's all about the songs. Because of the toned-down arrangements, everything is made simpler. The players are playing less complicated parts, putting the songs more on display and making it more of a collaborative effort. "Fool to Think" is such an elegant expression that we forget the simplicity of the parts: the chorus instrumentation is simply a great rhythm guitar arpeggio, strings, and a snare drum loop. We always knew DMB was a great band, we just didn't know how well they could play together. Now, under the steady hand of Glen Ballard, the album finds an excellent balance between pop radio sensibilities and the band's "house blend" of jazz, rock, and folk. Ballards's philosophy for the album was to take the songs, hone them down to 4 minute arrangements for the album and save the jam sessions for concerts. The new trimmer arrangements don't take anything away from the rich variety of the songs on Everyday, though. In between the sweet acoustic numbers, like "If I Had it All," where Dave's vocals lead smoothly into a cool sax riff that slides along on the verses, are "Mother Father," led by Carlos Santana's luscious Spanish guitar, and "Sleep to Dream Her," a hypnotic tune with a haunting trance of a melody that perfectly complements the lyric: "I sleep just to dream her/ beg the night just to see her." Matthews' apocalyptic vision of love on the brink of disaster is never given more voice and vision than on these songs.
Dave Matthews has referred to the making of this album as his own personal salvation. Listeners will have to agree, as the title track which closes the album gives evidence to Matthews' optimism in the face of life's tragedies. "Everyday" is a little sprite of a gospel song that starts out sounding musically like Jars of Clay meets the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, but by the bridge has merged back into traditional DMB-land, as the sax skips along behind Dave leading the way to the chorus, proclaiming, "All you need is love." The album ends with a marvelously joyous gospel choir, and Dave skatting with the best of them, a joyful picture of improvisation to close an album of surprisingly tempered, but nonetheless excellent diversity.
Glenn McCarty 3/8/2001