DMB back in full force with "Away from the World"

Summer may be over, but Dave Matthews Band is back in full swing with Away from the World to remind you of the days of outdoor concerts and driving with the windows down.

Dave Matthews, who has not released an album since his Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King back in 2009, has set the bar high for himself in his 20-plus year career.  Luckily for DMB fans all over the world, Dave remains incapable of disappointing.

Away from the World opens with "Broken Things," a cheerful start to the album with mellow lyrics and a perfect sing-along melody.

Next comes "Belly Belly Nice," which opens with a bass and trumpet sound and raw lyrics (“Jack and Jill went up the hill
to fetch a pail of water,
 Jack fell down and broke his crown
'cause he was messing with the preacher's daughter”) reminiscent of "Shake Me Like A Monkey" from Big Whiskey.  Unlike "Shake Me Like A Monkey," the song calms down about halfway through and effectively loses its edge.

No DMB album would be complete without a few slower feel-good ballads, and "Mercy" brings that fix right away.  "If Only," "Sweet" and "Belly Full" are three more lullaby-like love songs worth giving a listen.  Both "Mercy" and "Sweet" have live versions at the end of the album from his summer Bristow, VA and Cleveland, OH shows, respectively.

"Gaucho" offers the album a solid change of pace.  Between the classic DMB instrumental combination of trumpet, guitar, and drums and the not-so-classic chorusing change that picks up the tempo at the end, "Gaucho" is a guaranteed must-play on his future tours.  If you cannot wait until his next tour to hear it live, fear not – there is a live cut from his show in Hartford, CT this summer.

The rock vibe picks up in Away from the World with "The Riff," which has a solemn-turned-upbeat tone, and "Rooftop," which calls for some serious air drumming.

Personally, my favorite song of the album is "Snow Outside," mostly for its opening lyrics: “You are like a secret garden, as I shuffle through this broken town.”  The soft melody and great guitar sound had me falling in love with my boy Dave all over again.

Away from the World wraps up strong with "Drunken Soldier," which is filled with the instrumentals that bring you back to DMB's traditional concert jam sessions.

If there is anything worth complaining about with this album, it is that it cannot physically lift you up and deliver you to a DMB concert.  Luckily, if you shut your eyes, you can get pretty close.