The DMB fan in me

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Away From the World,” has made me a Dave Matthews Band fan. DMB has won me over with meaningful and catchy lyrics wrapped around loose jams that capture a live sound on the latest album released Sept. 11. There is really no doubt about it; the Dave Matthews Band is a group of very talented musicians and Matthews’ is an incredible songwriter.

I haven’t let that stop me from avoiding everything the band has released since Lenny Dykstra retired from the Philadelphia Phillies. There was a time when the “Under the Table and Dreaming” was near the top of my CD stack; right up there with Blues Traveler “Four.”

However it only took one entire summer of everyone with a radio or a guitar endlessly playing “Crash” for me to turn off DMB entirely.

After watching DMB perform three nights in July 2011 at Bader Field in Atlantic City during the Dave Matthews Band Caravan; I finally saw what all the hype was about. DMB creates an incredible live atmosphere for a crowd of typically imbibed-somethings.

The structure of the band’s live performances is replicated and that is what makes the newest album a great listen.

Anyone with a slight familiarity with DMB will recognize idealistic lyrics blended with influences of blues, jazz and reggae. There is a magnetic quality about the album that drew me in and carried me like a slotcar through 11 tracks. (The deluxe version includes live recordings of three of the album’s tracks.)

The tone of the album is not surprisingly mellow but the improvisational riffs by the backing band is refreshing and entertaining.

The first notes on “Broken Things” are courtesy of Tim Reynold’s electric guitar until the familiar horns and lyrics kick in. The deep guitar licks are contrasted by the cool jazz sounding horn solo bridge.

“Belly Belly Nice,” has a funky beat and catchy hook, “You can’t give too much love.” The solo exchange between Jeff Coffin on sax and violinist Boyd Tinsley sets the tone for the entire album.

The single “Mercy” is one of many reason the album debuted on top of the Billboard 200; the sixth time for the band. It’s catchy with Matthews sounding gentle with powerful lyrics that blast optimism like Coffin the tenor sax.

The music video produced by the band is true to form – touching and innovative.

Matthews’ guitar playing cannot be overlooked. One of the first songs I attempted on the guitar was “Satellite,” and I frustratingly wondered, “How does this guy hit all of these notes so quickly on an acoustic guitar.”

It’s similar to the opening of my favorite song on the album, “Gaucho.” In it, Matthews displays his captivating virtuosity, powerful instrumental backing and conscious lyrics.”

“We gotta do much more than believe if we really wanna change things,” becomes an anthem after the halfway point of the 4-minute track when children echo Matthews on the chorus.

Matthews uses his guitar to intimately paint a landscape on songs like “Sweet” and “Belly Full.” The minimalistic sound uncovers he roots of Matthews’ songwriting.

A close listener will hear the occasional notes from a Hammond Organ played by Roger Smith from Tower of Power.

DMB has also compiled live recordings into previously released albums on their “Spotify Live Series.”

Among the handful of tracks recorded in Atlantic City is a tight version of “What Would You Say.” It’s a great listen to those familiar to DMB as well as a jumping off point for those unfamiliar with the cultural phenomenon of Dave Matthews Band. 

If you really want to experience the live sound of DMB, check out their performance at Farm Aid today, Saturday, Sept. 22 at Hershey Park (or check out the live stream).

By the end of the week, I was playing this album at full volume with the windows rolled down while driving on Atlantic Avenue

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