For Dave Matthews Band's sixth studio album and first since 2002's Busted Stuff, the quintet turned to producer Mark Batson, who has worked with such hip-hop heavyweights as Eminem, 50 Cent and the Game. But don't expect them to sound like Grandmaster Dave and the Furious Four. As much as we may not be ready to see Matthews rocking some gold teeth, it would have been nice to hear the singer-guitarist and his posse shake things up a bit more than they do on Stand Up. Reuniting after Matthews's solo turn on 2003's Some Devil, they mostly return to the same kind of jam-band fusion—a signature blend of folk-rock, world beat, smooth jazz and VH1-ready pop—that fans have come to expect and that DMB can do in their sleep. And they do feel like they're in cruise mode for much of this solid but safe effort. The quasi-exotic opener, "Dreamgirl," with its African textures and winding guitar line, is instantly familiar, a little too much so. Meanwhile, "Old Dirt Hill (Bring That Beat Back)" is a sweetly wistful remembrance of childhood that fails to break any new ground. At least the funky title track, propelled by the rhythmic thrust of Carter Beauford's drums, really makes you stand up and pay attention. While they don't advance much musically, lyrically the boys, who played on last fall's Vote for Change tour, move in a political direction on cuts like the first single "American Baby," which is preceded by a two-minute intro featuring the sounds of bombs dropping. Stand Up could have used a few more explosive moments.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Stand Up (For It)"