Album Review: Walk Around the Moon – Dave Matthews Band Take Flight as the Satellite Once More
Love them or hate them, Dave Matthews Band bring it when they bring it. Their 10th studio album is a tell-all journey of music and love-stories pre-pandemic and during. Somehow, the band remains timeless, with their unique sensibilities and approach to composition. Their latest album, Walk Around the Moon, is a visitation to a satellite that never had left. It was just around the corner, towards the dark side of the moon. Let’s hear what makes this album great.
As a raconteur and parallel thinking captain, Dave Matthews has made a name for himself, confounding musicians. Writing complex acoustic riffs and singing pitch perfect in his iconic voice-there are very few bands that sound this great live and in studio. Accompanied by canvas art master Carter Beauford and an immensely talented band-they’ll always surprise themselves first.
The genius in space
Walk Around the Moon starts with a deep breath from Dave, while surreal lyrics pour out of this container that is the band. The moment he says “…take you there…”, we’re off with the entire band. With a section that has confused critics for long-the brass, classic rock tone and swinging style of the 70s coming together, you’re caught in a volume of daze. You see them flip the switch with Madman’s Eyes. The tone is sombre, dark in a sense, with the strings flowing in. Since Boyd Tinsley’s departure, the band has filled the hole with the same energy and gusto that the compositions had. The synths have been a replacement on par- and this song shows it. The Middle-Eastern tone riff is an entity that will etch itself in your mind. Dave Matthews band enjoy the groove, while creating that famous space they are known for…
If any band knows how to use the aural space for imagery, it is this band. Seemingly untextured levels will at times leave you in limbo. If you think this is boring, listen to Beauford’s foot and hand magic on the drums, that will do the trick. In live songs, legends like Derek Trucks and Tim Reynolds will fill the Platonic void with hypnotic solos that will melt your heart and bring tears to your eyes. Watch the live version of Lie in Our Graves with Derek Trucks, and you’ll know you have a heart.
The many masks of Dave Matthews Band
Looking for a Vein brings an electronic touch to a band that usually prides themselves around live instruments. It however, brings an impressive aura for Dave’s voice. It is minimal in terms of arrangement, the ballad fitting for an album that promises to be a journey. One of my favourite tracks comes next, The Ocean and the Butterfly. A commonly heard chord progression, maybe this one will be a simple write-off. Never. The saxophone slides in with the confidence of a college jock, and our ears melt as usual. Dave Matthews Band never resides on the same mortal plane as us in music, and that’s a boon and bane. The crisp enunciation of the instruments are what the lyrics require as well. “The water and the beach, Oh, both worlds out of reach…”. Spare us the lucid poetry Dave, you got us with the first word anyway.
It Could Happen brings memories of Satellite, from Remember Two Things. The complex riff and singing over is a thing of beauty Dave specialises in. A cinematic gush will take you through the new oceanic tides that the band explores. New member Buddy Strong makes his presence felt, as the pastel hue the canvas requires. The charm of Haunted Hollow Studio in Charlottesville, Virginia is heard in the production, tailor made tuxes for everyone. Ballad space returns with Something to Tell My Baby is the cone of confidence and wisdom that you could expect from an experienced band like this. It is commonplace now for critics to go after Matthews vocals, but they show a certain finesse and class here, with the sensitivity of the times wrapped around.
Rock monsters:but with soul
After Everything reminds you that they are a rock band after all. You hear them come together like a gymnast pyramid-for one of the catchiest songs on the album. You might even hear crescendos and moments that sound like the early years of The Police. The vibes of the pandemic are caught in All You Wanted was Tomorrow. It is a mature take on this massive uninvited leviathan that changed a gear in our lives. Shifted priorities. It is a wilful look into your journals from 2020, and watching the world paused for a while.
Dave Matthews Band go all rock blow with The Only Thing. It shows all the temperatures that the group like to feel, and a tight live set. The album is no Crash, but it shows the band having the best time in the studio. You can see the transparency in their comfort, just fitting into zones with ease. Maybe 3 decades and more of making music makes you tighter than a family. Those who were never part of it, are welcomed into the fold, like it was in the early 90s. Break Free and Monsters diffuses that chill energy the band’s fans love and hate. You get a smooth effervescence, like knowing the oldest bottle of scotch will taste the best.
Learning from the heart
Singing from the Windows is a peek into the brutalities and nuances of war. Dave Matthews Band will always know how to put you in someone else’s shoes, and then sing a song about it. It is the subtleties of a band that have enjoyed the flow of the undercurrent and a cult following unlike any other band in history. Maybe that is why, they can take a walk around the moon.