September 13, 2012 3:35 AM by Smash
Released September 11th, 2012, Away From The World is Dave Matthews Band’s eighth studio album. With cover art drawn by Dave himself, similar to Big Whiskey and the Grogrux King, the album takes a different turn by revisiting producer Steve Lillywhite, whom the band had not recorded with since The Lillywhite Sessions (“JTR,” “Grey Street,” “Big Eyed Fish,” and “Bartender” to name a few).
I gave Away From The World two listens while at work today. Below, I chime in with my first impressions. They’re not the most detailed – I may come back after giving it a more thorough listen and add more depth.
1. “Broken Things”
Album starts off with what sounds like would be a great song to begin a live set. Reminds me a bit of “Lying in the Hands of God” off of their previous album, Big Whiskey and the Grogrux King.
2. “Belly Belly”
One of the biggest take aways I had from “Belly Belly” was the sound of the horns, most notably the saxophone. Now, we know LeRoi Moore passed away a few years ago now and no one can duplicate his sound, but it was very noticeable on this track. Jeff Coffin had studied lots of live albums to try and replicate Moore’s signature sound, but unfortunately on this track, he missed it slightly.
I hate saying this since “Mercy” was the first single off of the album, this is by far my favorite track. Relatively different sound but it works very well with their style. Great track.
A song about how if you want to accomplish anything, you need to get off your ass and go do it (at least that was my takeaway). A heavily distorted guitar comes in briefly mid song, as well as what sounds like kids in a schoolyard singing the lines “We gotta do much more than believe if we really wanna change things. We gotta do much more than believe if we wanna see the world change.” Big fan of this track.
Basically all Dave on this track. It’s a mellow tune that has shades of “Trouble” from his solo album Some Devil.
6. “The Riff”
This song builds and builds on itself. Like a roller coaster ride, it’s up and down and you’re not really sure what’s coming next. The band comes in and out at times and when you think the track is done at around 4:52, Timmy Reynolds comes in with some serious heat and finishes the track strong with his talents on guitar.
7. “Belly Full”
A quick little interlude type song by Dave. It’s a love song with clever writing as always that is a nice break up in the middle of the album. ”Butterfly”-esque. Simple, but very nice.
8. “If Only”
Call me crazy but “If Only” really screams Jack Johnson to me. Not the typical sound we’re used to. Yes, it sounds like a Jack Johnson song but they do a good job of throwing a bit of a curveball at everyone. Has a standard DMB bridge in there that we’re all familiar with. Overall, I like the change here.
One of the more aggressive songs on the album, “Rooftop” comes in hot from the start and doesn’t let up at any point in during the song. Less of a love song, more of a demanding “I want…” than the more common “I need.”
10. “Snow Outside”
“Snow Outside” really displays how talented this band is. Different instruments come in and out throughout the song. I like how they brought in their live jamming on this one. We haven’t really heard that much in their previous studio albums, let alone not many bands have pulled this off. They know their audience. Most casual fans won’t appreciate this track, but the die hards will love all 6:12 of it.
11. “Drunken Soldier”
After first hearing “Drunken Soldier,” especially the intro, I immediately thought of Before These Crowded Streets, kind of sounds like what would happen if you took all of Before These Crowded Streets and mashed it into one, 9:46 long song. It starts out very “Stone” like and continues into a long, DMB jam style track. One of the best tracks on the album.
Overall, I’m giving Away From The World a grade of B+. It’s not my favorite, but it does has some great tunes on there. A lot of these songs will definitely make for some great live appearances and bring the crowd to their feet. As the first album without any input from LeRoi, the band did a great job mixing in some new sounds with the old we all know and love.