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Dave Returns to Form with 'Busted Stuff'

On the heels of an extended summer tour, Dave Matthews Band’s recent studio release, Busted Stuff, should make great strides in restoring the band’s status with its rabid fan base that the group has established over the better part of the last decade.

Busted Stuff is essentially a collection of re-casted tracks from the group’s infamous Lillywhite sessions that the band deemed too melancholy to release at the time. Instead, the group pumped out the formulaic Everyday, a pop album of shorter tunes featuring more of Dave Matthews and less of the Dave Matthews Band, with radio-play clearly in mind. Though Dave was solid as always, the band was left stifled, often playing as a session band would to clinically support a solo artist.

In response, Dave and friends revisited the Lillywhite material and have included much of it on this current effort. In their new form, the Lillywhite tracks do not disappoint, as virtually each piece exudes the inventiveness of the entire group.

Much is known about the understated, is-it-love-or-is-it-angst vocals of group’s front man, but Busted Stuff allows percussionist Carter Beauford, violinist Boyd Tinsley, bassist Stefan Lessard, and saxophonist LeRoi Moore to get into the act as well.

To illustrate, in “Grace is Gone,” Matthews is allowed to relay his “sobering,” drink-myself-into-oblivion message of lost love against a backdrop of tight marching beats provided by Beauford complemented exquisitely by the unique twang of Lessard’s dobro. Commiserate with the lyrics, the arrangement is a complex amalgamation of musical emotions, and the band pulls off the feat admirably.

Though the album’s first single “Where Are You Going” is receiving an inordinate amount of MTV and radio airplay, Busted Stuff is best enjoyed in its entirety. Glorious though the single-song downloads from one’s favorite file-sharing service may be, the listener is well served to merely press play, open (and finish) an inviting bottle of red wine, and comfortably recline to enjoy the full eleven song offering.

September 3, 2002
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