With saxophones, the occasional banjo, Dave’s distinct voice and enunciation, and drumlines that are a mixture of rock, jazz, and marching beats, The Dave Matthews Band is like no other rock band in history. It’s the kind of music that you remember – the type you can pick out after hearing just a few bars. I believe DMB has already attained “classic” status and will be remembered as one of this era’s greatest groups, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying to outdo themselves.
The latest release from the veterans, “Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King”, has much to say. The band bid adieu to founding member and saxophonist LeRoi Moore when he passed away last August and they seem to have taken the sorrow and channeled it into making a record more epic than ever before. That is not to say that the tone of the album is sorrowful, as many of the songs have an upbeat tempo and vibe. A more appropriate description might be “contemplative”.
The album opens with a minute-long saxophone solo by Moore, which leads into the full-out rocking opening strains of “Shake Me Like a Monkey”. The wordless opening sounds much like the band is declaring “This one’s for you, LeRoi”.
The lyrics of “Funny the Way It Is”, the album’s initial single, are a comparison between happy and sad circumstances that seems to underscore the frailty of life, while “Dive In” examines the differences between the haves and the have-nots. My favorite lyrics come from the chorus of “Funny the Way It Is” -
Funny the way it is, if you think about it Somebody’s going hungry and someone else is eating out Funny the way it is, not right or wrong Somebody’s heart is broken and it becomes your favorite song
It wouldn’t be a rock album (or a Dave Matthews Band album, for that matter), without musings on the nature of love – and this album isn’t without those discussions. “Lying In the Hands of God”, “Spaceman”, and “You and Me” fit the bill. Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King’s catchy hooks, the obvious skill of the band’s members, and the lyrical commentary on life makes the album well worth a listen or three. If you haven’t experienced the music of the Dave Matthews Band before, there’s no time like the present to acquaint yourself.