A new 14 track original studio album is almost everything DMB fans could have hoped for. Skilful musicianship, nice tight production, plus some neat if unremarkable new songs, make for a solid recording comeback, and some inspired musical moments.
"...love, life, God, death and sex" are the albums key themes according to Dave Matthews. And they're manifest in DMB's trademark steamy ballads, with their funk and soul flavoured rock solidity, the hippyish instrumentation that hark back to Grateful Dead. Dave's hoarsely growled run-on lines, and the odd blatant anti-war, anti-Bush lyric combine new and old.
Sometimes the political advocacy in the music is interruptive. Mostly, though, the military drum tattoos blend intriguingly with hillbilly rhythms. Spiritual anti-war appeals, and third world musical elements, call for the courage to fight for the ideals that made America inspiring, adding depth to Dave's fitful erotic rock.
Stand Up's sound has those riches of sound layers that typify DMB. It's a lot less stripped down than Matthews' solo Some Devil. But producer Mark Batson - who also works with 50 Cent, The Game, and Eminem - manages to make the musical arrangements sound crisp, tight and lithe... almost poppy. Even the more delicate numbers tick along smartly. This should guarantee key tracks a long ride on America's rock airwaves.
Not that mass audience radio play matters most. The Dave Matthews Band specialise in producing great albums packed with tracks that you can listen to the whole way through, over and over, always finding new moments that move you.
Matthews has the courage to write about sex in a way that's both explicit (sometimes uncomfortably so) and meaningful. And provided you're a lover of his unusually deep, creamy vocals, Stand Up will stand the test of time and continue to seduce you.
In fact, it's easy to hear how Dave Matthews comfortably shared a stage with the likes of Michael Stipe and Bruce Springsteen on the 2004 Vote for Change tour in support of Kerry's election campaign. (Bush, by contrast, hired Hilary Duff to please his crowd.)
A bonus disc of live favourites that comes with the CD shows why the DMB keep packing stadiums. Replete with passionate jams that never disappear into the bathroom with a magazine, organically driving the crowds to delirium, it's another compelling reason for fans to lay their hands on this double CD release.- Jean Barker
WHAT OTHER CRITICS SAIDIf the thoroughly good-natured Stand Up proves anything, it's that Dave Matthews Band has learned to temper its considerable chops with enough restraint and pop smarts that it no longer seems possible for even the most ardent punks to hate the group. But the album won't give the unconverted a reason to love Matthews, either.- Christiaan Hoard for Rolling Stone
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