|“we got to a space where the songs could fly...” — Dave MatthewsDave Matthews ‑ lead vocals, guitarCarter Beauford ‑ drums, percussionBoyd Tinsley ‑ violinLeroi Moore ‑ sax, woodwindsStefan Lessard ‑ bass
Busted Stuff, is the most anticipated release in the Dave Matthews Band’s 11-year history. Following the triple platinum success of Everyday (2001) and subsequent tour, the band returned to The Plant Studios in Sausalito, CA where they recorded their 1998 release Before These Crowded Streets. The band used this studio time as an opportunity to revisit songs they had written previously – songs originally intended for release in late 2000. Incomplete tracks from that album were eventually leaked to fans through internet file-sharing programs and discussion boards. Although disappointed that the world became privy to their unfinished work, the band never questioned the writing or material and have played a majority of the songs in concert.
After two years of road-testing the material, the band felt renewed confidence that these tracks belonged on a studio release and began work on Busted Stuff in January 2002. Matthews set to work rewriting lyrics for many of the tracks while band mates Carter Beauford, Stefan Lessard, Leroi Moore, and Boyd Tinsley overhauled arrangements, tightened structures, and modified tempos. Two brand new tracks were also created in the process – “You Never Know” and the album’s first single “Where Are You Going.” Busted Stuff marks another milestone in DMB’s career by becoming the first album the band has ever recorded without any special guests.
The album begins with the title track, a subdued but vibrant piece of music highlighted by decidedly jazzy rhythms and Dave’s gruff baritone vocals that invite relaxation and indulgence. The syncopated “Grey Street” follows - with Beauford’s powerful, triumphant beat anchoring the central riff. Tinsley’s violin, Moore’s soprano sax and Lessard’s thundering bass build uniformly on one another before exploding into richly constructed harmonies.
“Where Are You Going” reflects the band’s romantic side and is highlighted by Leroi Moore’s melodious solo. This song leads up to the second newly-penned song “You Never Know.” Matthews’ characteristic optimism is evident in the song’s chorus: “Don’t lose the dreams inside your head / They’ll only be there till you’re dead.” The song showcases Beauford, whose shifting time signatures provide a fluid sense of motion.
The hushed “Captain,” “Grace Is Gone” and “Digging A Ditch” find Matthews contemplating life, love and isolation with stark sincerity. The slow-burning, smoky atmosphere of “Captain” is punctuated by funky grooves from Lessard’s kinetic bassline. “Grace Is Gone” begins with a brief dobro intro, and builds slowly to an aching chorus - Matthews’ voice treading the line between gentle murmur and tearful wail.
The extended instrumental workouts of previous DMB outings, while less prevalent on Busted Stuff, are just as compelling. The potent musicianship of “Kit Kat Jam” finds Beauford laying down a driving Latin beat as Tinsley and Moore duke it out over Matthews’ electric-guitar foundation. The final track “Bartender,” one of the most powerful songs DMB has ever recorded and already a crowd favorite, evolves from a bass-and-baritone-sax-driven spiritual vamp to an explosive all-out jam before melting away to the relaxed flute solo that closes the album’s narrative.
Busted Stuff is the latest chapter in the history of a band that began over a decade ago playing bars and fraternity houses around their Charlottesville, Virginia home and grew into one of the biggest touring and recording acts in North America. With over 24 million albums sold (as well as two Platinum-selling home video releases) and several years of stadium and arena tours under its belt, the Dave Matthews Band continues to push boundaries with its music. Busted Stuff is the quintet's fifth studio album and eleventh release overall.