Busted Stuff‘s Stephen Harris—finds Matthews free of his band’s often excessive arrangements and Ballard’s even more excessive (or regressive) production. Matthews’s typical enviro-emotional parallels remain in tact (he vaguely correlates the “billowing smoke” of burning forests with the confusion in his head on the elegant, brass-filled opening track “Dodo”), but songs like the title track find him more vulnerable than ever before: “One last kiss, one only/Then I’ll let you go/Hard for you, I’ve fallen.” His falsetto is almost indecipherable on “An’ Another Thing,” but his strife rings through crystal clear. The influence of Paul Simon can be found in cool splashes on tracks like the reggae/dub-infused “Up & Away” and “Grey Blue Eyes,” both of which feature classic ‘60s-rock guitar riffs courtesy of Phish’s Trey Anastasio. The deceptively catchy first single, “Gravedigger,” recalls the dark undertones of 1998’s Before These Crowded Streets, while slicker tunes like the anxious “Trouble” and “Too High”—with their lone guitar figures and cinematic strings—evoke the epic grace of old U2. Going solo has afforded Matthews the opportunity to explore different things, even if those things are only slightly different: the stand-out “Stay or Leave” features vocal percussion a la Michael Jackson (or “über-beatboxing” a la Justin Timberlake, if you prefer). So, what’s the point of a Dave Matthews solo record? Some Devil might just be the jam-band frontman’s best work since Before These Crowded Streets.
- Release Date
- September 25, 2003
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