April 15, 2009 by MK
When Dave Matthews Band hit the airwaves 15 years ago(!) with “What Would You Say,” I was in their demographic sweet spot. A high-schooler who hadn’t really heard music that incorporated jazz, folk and pop elements into the jam band model. As the years went on and my taste grew ever-so-sophisticated, Dave seemed like something lost and faraway. A group that was nice once upon a time, but that eventually went out of style, like make-up on Motley Crue.
But now, after the tragic death of Leroi Moore, they’re back with Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King. So, how’s the first single, on first listen?
Meh. Musically, it tries to capture the carefree summertime vibe of “Stay” while adding a dash of melancholy to the lyrics, no doubt in response to Moore’s untimely death:
Funny the way it is if you think about it
One kid walks ten miles to school, another droppin’ out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
A soldier’s last breath and babies being born
The problem with “Funny the Way It Is” has been the same problem since 2001’s Everyday: Overproduction. This record’s culprit is producer Rob Cavallo, who follows in the illustrious Pro-Tools line of Glen Ballard, Stephen Harris and Mark Batson. Each of these producers have tried to capture a clean quality in DMB while losing the one virtue that separated them in the first place — loose eccentricity. If “Funny the Way It Is” is any indication, it’s far past time to go back to working with Steve Lillywhite, who produced the only Dave albums worth a damn: Under the Table and Dreaming, Crash and Before These Crowded Streets.
3 out of 10