The Stand Up Sessions
Stand Up is a little different than anything the Dave Matthews Band has done in the past, most likely do to Mark Batson’s (G-Unit, Seal, India.Arie) production. Batson claims to try and “bring out the best” in the artists he works with, and for DMB that process involved a lot of improvisation and spontaneity.Rather than enter the studio with fully-written songs, the band members swapped instruments and fiddled around until they had a lick or two to build on. Even some of Matthews’ vocals consisted of spontaneous free styling.
The results are impressive, with songs that expand from a central grounding theme or melody, rather than instrumentation that sounds forced to fit a preconceived composition. Of course, this also changes the fundamental style of DMB. Stand Up uses a wider range of electronic instruments and digital effects than fans are used to, including a bit of a world vibe. Even Matthews’ trademark acoustic guitar is absent on some songs.
The improvisation offers a jazzier or session-like musicality, but the polished production makes sure it doesn’t sound too out-of-the-blue. Some homage is paid to DMB’s extensive live releases as well, with echoing effects that make the listener feel as if they’re in a concert hall, especially on the opener “Dreamgirl.” This makes sense for continuity, considering that the majority of DMB’s released albums have been live concert recordings.
Overall, Stand Up is a new style for DMB, but one that stems from the natural talent of every artist involved. It won’t take much getting used to, but it will perhaps surprise and delight the fans of this ground-breaking quintet.