`Everyday' by Dave Matthews Band
February 27, 2001
By Jim DeRogatis,
Hey, all you hardcore Dave-heads: If you haven't heard yet, your hero has made a
matchbox twenty record.
Bummer! Or is it?
If the on-hiatus Phish retains the artistic edge in the post-Grateful Dead arena
jam-band sweepstakes, the Dave Matthews Band is clearly the economic champ.
DMB (as fans affectionately call it) is the most efficient and lucrative touring
machine that the music industry has produced in the last 15 years.
Last summer, it sold a staggering 170,000 tickets for two shows at Soldier Field, then
returned a short time later to sell out a few gigs at the Allstate Arena. And every one of
the band's albums has gone platinum-plus.
But the South African-born troubadour isn't satisfied with these accomplishments.
Apparently, he covets the mainstream pop airwaves--over and above the considerable support
he already gets from adult-rock radio. Now Matthews wants to go head-to-head with 'N Sync
and Britney Spears.
Arriving in stores today, the band's fourth studio album, "Everyday" (RCA),
serves as his means to this ambitious end. It's a leaner, meaner DMB record designed with
the explicit purpose of grabbing pop's brass ring. As such, it's full of hummable lyrics,
gentle grooves and pleasantly jazzy instrumental sounds. But then, so is a Christopher
DMB fans know that Matthews had crafted one album with his longtime bandmates and
producer Steve Lillywhite, but then scrapped those sessions because they were just
"more of the same."
Seeking to pull himself out of a mild depression and growing alcohol problem (all of it
carefully detailed in the current Rolling Stone cover story), Matthews entered into a
songwriting partnership with the middle-aged hack-pop tunesmith Glen Ballard, the man who
bands like Aerosmith turn to when they're short on inspiration. (Ballard also co-wrote
many of Alanis Morissette's songs of twentysomething female angst.)
Shock! Horror! On "Everyday," most of the songs average three minutes--this
from a group that can play three songs in an hour onstage.
And there's barely a solo in evidence from endlessly wanky violinist Boyd Tinsley or
windy sax man LeRoi Moore. Matthews also has traded in his famous jangling acoustic guitar
in favor of a jangling electric guitar--as if there's much of a difference. (He's still no
None of the aforementioned changes are bad per se. This famously flatulent group
desperately needed to re-evaluate itself; losing the instrumental excess simply focuses
the spotlight on Matthews' trademark gruff vocals and lilting, serpentine hooks. The
result is DMB's best album, though the worth of that statement is relative--at its core,
"Everyday" remains just empty, easy-listening Muzak, and certainly nothing to
get overly excited about.
Ballard did little to improve the hyper-romantic Hallmark card banality of the band's
lyrics. "I know I'll miss her later/Wish I could bend my love to hate her/Wish I
could be her creator/To be the light in her eyes," Matthews warbles in "Sleep to
Dream Her." It's the musical equivalent of "Sleepless in Seattle." Ugh.
Like Metallica when it shifted from thrashy speed metal to alternative radio-friendly
ballads, the Dave Matthews Band is sure to alienate a circle of the hardcore faithful
here, but it's a gamble the boss is willing to take. If the masses of Generation Y join
their boomer parents in digging these innocuous Whole Foods-hippie ditties, Uncle Dave is
poised to become the biggest act in America.
That might not be so bad. At this point, anything would be better than the Backstreet
Rating for "Everyday": **