For a band who has been to the edge and back, making music that brings them back to their roots is always hard to do. With having been in existence for over 20 years, Dave Matthews Band has been able to grow with each new album, however, not always fitting in with their original signature sound or with the sounds of popular rock music. Creativity is always at the core, and their left field turns have both garnered success and tons of question marks. Their previous album (2009's "Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King) was a return to old, showcasing the intricacy of their music, their abilities to write equal parts radio pop rock gold and jam band fireworks had returned to the forefront of their music. This album marks the reuniting of the band with producer Steve Lillywhite, who helmed the recording processes of the band's first three (and most popular) albums. The sounds of the album are reminiscent of those releases however featuring a much more updated and mature Dave Matthews Band. The lyrical content has grown up and deals with much more global and adult themes and the album marks the first entirely recorded without founding member LeRoi Moore. Touring musicians Tim Reynolds (guirar), Jeff Coffin (saxaphones), and Rashawn Ross (trumpet) take a more prominent role on this record (including several writing credits and photos within the cd packaging), virtually making them official members of the band. The music has it all and is reminiscent of pieces of every single release from DMB over the past 20 years. Songs like "The Riff" and "Drunken Soldier" are deep and artistic and could be compared to "Stand Up" era DMB sounds combined with the production of their first two albums. The album's lead single "Mercy" is one of their best ever, both lyrically and musically, and is very reminiscent of tracks like "Where Are You Going" and "You & Me." "Sweet" has Dave playing ukulele which is a unique turn and "Belly Belly Nice" is a track that is most likely rooted in the funk of Sly & The Family Stone. Songs like "Gaucho" and "If Only" could easily have fit into the earlier Lillywhite records, but are showcased perfectly by the band at this time in their careers. Sure the band could have gone into the studio with Steve Lillywhite and dusted off a lot of older tunes and made a superbly killer album (and we still hope they do), but it's nice to hear that the band still has what it takes to make new, fresh, and exciting tunes that fit nicely within their catalogue and their live setlists. This album marks what could very well be the return to original form of Dave Matthews Band, and be the springboard that launches another successful 20 years of awesome recording and touring.
Erin McCarley is a powerhouse of musicality. This second album showcases a much more poppier side of her than her first album, showing how fun music really can be. The production on the album is tighter and less organic, making for a different sound, yet familiar to any Erin McCarley fan. The album is more accessible, but more artistic in the same vein. For a musician who can just be "a girl with a guitar," this style of music can be looked at as a departure from her rootsier past, or just as an elaborate version of what Erin does best: write and sing great songs. "elevator" is the lead track and debut single from the album and can completely sum up the entire album is one small song. You are hooked and drawn in from the first note, and crave to finish the entire album and rock out thoroughly from beginning to end. Whether it be a tightly produced pop song or a loose and free flowing acoustic rocker, Erin McCarley has shown that she is truly a talent in the music world that needs to be absorbed.