Dave Matthews Band, Away From the World
* * * (out of four) ROCK
"If you stay with me, that don't mean we have to stay the same," Dave Matthews sings on The Riff, the song that gives his band's eighth studio album its name. Ostensibly singing to a lover, he might also be addressing his fans and his band.
Away From the World nods toward both DMB's past and its future. The band reunites with Steve Lillywhite, who produced its first three albums; at the same time, the horn section of trumpeter Rashawn Ross and saxophonist Jeff Coffin is evolving into the role once filled by LeRoi Moore, who died in 2008.
The band achieves balance in the midst of transformation. Musically, Away From the World ranges from the accessible pop of Mercy and If Only to challenging material such as Snow Outside and Drunken Soldier. Lyrically, it most often gets back to love, social or sexual. Matthews brings everything together on a sprawling, shifting final track that clocks in at almost 10 minutes, singing, "Make love most of what you've got." Whatever Matthews' fans value about him, they all should agree with that sentiment.
>Download:Mercy, Snow Outside, Drunken Soldier