Neo-folk rocker Dave Matthews is caught between fame and family, South African citizenship and superstardom, populism and popularity. On "Before These Crowded Streets," Matthews continues to bring his polyrhythmic pop to the masses.
Lyrically, Matthews has turned inward, yearning for his homeland in the Middle-Easternish "Last Stop" and his own identity there in "Don't Drink the Water." In abundance are love songs such as the obsessive "Crush" or Matthews' whimsical take on desire in "Rapunzel."
Musically, the band's familiar, thickly textured folk is in full effect, and Matthews' shrill yodeling echoes throughout. But with most songs clocking in at over seven minutes, the album seems overindulgent and insular. Of course purists will love this, but the rest of us may wonder whether Matthews' struggle on "Before These Crowded Streets" is a private dialogue or a public spectacle.