By Corey Pollnow
Dave Matthews Band has returned for their eighth album, Away from the World, produced by Steve Lillywhite. Back for the first time in a decade, Lillywhite produced the band’s first three albums and helped them achieve mainstream success in the 1990’s.
Lillywhite has brought the band back to square one; reestablishing the acoustic sound that captivated millions across the globe. The last album Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, was dedicated to longtime friend and band member LeRoi Moore, who passed away in the summer of 2008 in an ATV accident.
Away from the World is the first album without Moore’s imprint on the saxophone. Nonetheless, the album is jam-packed with Moore’s permanent fill-in, Jeff Coffin of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Coffin has fit in flawlessly with the band due to his past tours with DMB, which date back to 1997. LeRoi Moore’s protégé who hails from the band’s hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, on the trumpet, has combined with Coffin to establish a strong harmony on stage left.
The album has a similar sound to the first three albums, which were produced by Lilllywhite. The visual themes that were prevalent during the band’s early stages are still relevant. Sex, love, and harmonizing together as people accompany a newly found topic, Matthews’ children.
The album kicks off with “Broken Things” that features Matthews hitting falsetto notes while singing about his life experiences and a lover.
“Belly Belly Nice” is a favorite of many on DMB fan forums. Coffin and Ross take the spotlight together and create a beautiful harmony.
“Gaucho” is reminiscent of “Warehouse” from Under the Table and Dreaming because of the strong and fast paced riff that guides the song to an ending with a children’s choir.
The last three songs of the album “Rooftop”, “Snow Outside”, “Drunk Soldier” are superb lyrically and musically. Don’t expect Away from the World to be a perfect album like The Wall or Tommy, but understand that’s not what this band intended to be from the beginning.
From their start in Charlottesville in 1990 to 1998 they had a niche sound. That sound was lost and for many years; it has returned and the Dave Matthews Band fan base is very grateful for that.