For the last decade — since 1998’s Before These Crowded Streets officially, and since 2001’s widely bootlegged Lillywhite Sessions in actuality — Dave Matthews Band has gone from being one of pop music’s most interesting acts to its most predictable. Since the radio cop-out Everyday, the group has largely sacrificed the rich arrangements and wide-open songwriting that made them great in favor of half-baked mediocrity. (If you want to argue that they’ve always sucked, I’ve addressed that here.) But the untimely death of founding member LeRoi Moore last year seems to have pushed some life back into them, if Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King‘s lead single, “Funny the Way It Is,” is any indication.
[Dave Matthews photo by Conrad Morgan]
The song opens with a funereal brass arrangement before the unmistakable fretwork of Tim Reynolds — the guitarist and DMB “fifth Beatle” whose scorching leads sizzle across the band’s excellent trio of ’90s albums — enters. Dave’s voice sounds smoother and stronger than it did on on 2005’s croaky Stand Up, and though the song doesn’t entirely abandon the tight pop of their recent releases, its four-and-a-half minutes feel like a deep breath from a band that’s been hyperventilating for far too long.
Dave Matthews Band – “Funny The Way It Is”: Link
(Big Whiskey… is due on June 2)
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