Dave Matthews Band Displays Variety and Unparalleled Musicality in New Album ‘Walk Around the Moon’

The 12-track set showcases a new, interesting approach by the group


via Spotify

Dave Matthews Band launched their 10th studio album “Walk Around the Moon” on Friday, May 19.

Gavin Block, Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Ledger

Rock group and jam band Dave Matthews Band has come to “Crash” the music scene with a new record.

Walk Around the Moon,” which was made available on May 19 and is their 10th studio album, comes nearly five years after the release of the band’s preceding record “Come Tomorrow” in June 2018 and almost 30 years after their debut studio album “Under the Table and Dreaming” in September 1994. Work for their newest LP began during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is their first album to include keyboardist member Buddy Strong after violinist and mandolinist Boyd Tinsley’s exit from the band shortly before “Come Tomorrow” came out.

Three singles — the lead release “Madman’s Eyes,” “Monsters” and “Walk Around the Moon” — were launched in the months beforehand.

“I look forward to taking this band together in one room to make another record,” Matthews said. “I’m jumping the gun because having made 10 does feel like, if nothing else, we haven’t found anything better to do. Everyone could probably find a gig somewhere else. So it says something that we haven’t left each other yet.”

“I go back to when his first mainstream album, ‘Under the Table and Dreaming,’ came out,” expressed publications adviser Mr. Hall. “When I hear Dave Matthews Band, it kind of brings me back to the day of high school and of college, and it puts me in a really good mood, so I look forward to [the album].”

The opening and title track begins with only a scheming acoustic guitar and Matthews’s soft vocals but soon grows into utilizing the full regular instrumentation for a Dave Matthews Band song. It features a swinging rhythm from Carter Beauford’s drums that will leave the listener’s foot tapping.

“Madman’s Eyes” commences with strings using notes from the Arabic scale, or more specifically, the double harmonic major scale. This exotic influence is employed for the rest of the song, lending it a vast, intense sonic atmosphere. It transitions to a mighty chorus that is seemingly in 6/8 time, while the rest of the song is in 4/4.

Dave Matthews performs with his band at the Outside Lands Music Festival in 2009. (Moses Namkung)

The flow of the album calms down with the genuinely beautiful track “Looking for a Vein.” Unlike most music by Dave Matthews Band, it utilizes an electronic drum beat and synths that work with the more traditional guitars. This gives more emphasis to Matthews’s vocal performance, which is soaring in the chorus, and the insightful lyrics.

“The Ocean and the Butterfly” is similar to the previous song, except it is in 6/8. It is introduced with a smooth saxophone, and percussion using brushes on the drums, relaxed guitar and mellow vocals soon come in afterward to drive it. The instrumentation and overall musical quality here is much more redolent of a classic Dave Matthews Band tune.

“It Could Happen” appears to possess more production than the pieces that come before it. There are more parts of the instrumentation being presented at once, and although rather compressed, it still manages to feel generally natural.

The modest sixth track “Something to Tell My Baby” emerges as the first song on the album to be written solely by Matthews. The vocal presentation on this is quintessential for the lead singer. Its minimalist arrangement pulls the listener in, and although it is a short moment, it is a very sweet one.

The far more showy “After Everything” has electric piano and guitar with overdrive initiating it with the full, brassy instrumentation shortly arriving afterward. The opening instrumental suggests a 7/4 time signature, but as soon as the vocals come in to establish the first verse, it quickly goes to common time. “After Everything” is special due to the spotlight it puts on Strong’s voice, creating a duet with Matthews.

“All You Wanted Was Tomorrow” is another song on the softer side of the record. Acoustic guitar, piano, vocals, bass guitar and easygoing drums are set as the foundation near the start. However, horns start to become involved in it and slowly grow as a more prominent aspect of the track. As a whole, it musically portrays a sense of delightful, happy melancholy.

“The Only Thing” has writing contributions from producer John Alagía along with the record’s normal writing crew. Driving rhythm guitar opens it, and Matthews’s voice floats by the chorus. It is notable for the solos from guitar and keyboards that are featured back-to-back following the second chorus, with the two instruments seeming to battle each other.

The 10th song “Break Free” appeared in Dave Matthews Band live shows as early as 2006 but was only just released as a studio version on “Walk Around the Moon.” The guitar has a steady pattern as the drums provide a groovy rhythm, all backed with a rocking motif of a IV-vi-V chord progression that is present throughout. The catchy chorus and cool brass instruments particularly later in the song are factors that form to make it an even stronger tune.

“Monsters” has a fittingly haunting quality, containing an atmospheric delay effect on guitar. The line used on the instrument is chiming and can even be seen as evoking a nostalgic sentiment. It employs an interesting i-bIII-bII-bVI progression to carry it along for the majority of its duration.

The 12th and final track “Singing from the Windows” can be assumed to have especially been a product of the pandemic, mostly due to its lyrics speaking of isolation and a desire for a return to normality. It is the second song on the album to have been written only by Matthews. “Singing From the Windows” is the record’s most stripped-down track, presenting just the voice of Matthews and an acoustic guitar. It serves as a nice, peaceful closer to the album.

Overall, “Walk Around the Moon” is an eclectic and intriguing release from Dave Matthews Band. It is a true adventure for the ears, and it genuinely exhibits the admirable versatility of the group. The LP has tracks geared towards both fans of their older work and fans of their newer music.

In conjunction with the release of “Walk Around the Moon,” Dave Matthews Band announced a 2023 summer tour with 45 dates.