Rolling Stone - 5/14/98, p.573.5 Stars (out of 5)
- "...DMB is more successful on this outing than ever before in translating the roiling energy of its stage show to the studio. The band also pushes in adventurous new directions, incorporating bright new hues..."
Dave Matthews Band: Dave Matthews (acoustic guitar, vocals); Boyd Tinsley (violin); Leroi Moore (alto, soprano, tenor & baritone saxophones, pennywhistle, bass clarinet); Stefan Lessard (bass); Carter Beauford (drums, percussion, background vocals).
Additional personnel: Alanis Morissette (vocals); Tim Reynolds (electric guitar, mandolin); Bela Fleck (banjo); John D'Earth (trumpet); Butch Taylor (piano, organ); Greg Howard (Chapman stick); Tawatha Agee, Cindy Mizelle, Brenda White King (background vocals).
Kronos Quartet: David Harrington, John Sherba (violin); Hank Dutt (viola); Joan Jeanrenaud (cello).
Recorded at the Record Plant, Sausalito, California and Electric Lady Studios, New York, New York.
BEFORE THESE CROWDED STREETS was nominated for the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. "Crush" was nominated for the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.
Personnel: Dave Matthews (vocals, acoustic guitar); Alanis Morissette (vocals); Tim Reynolds (electric guitar, mandolin); B‚la Fleck (banjo); David Harrington, John Sherba , Boyd Tinsley (violin); Hank Dutt (viola); Joan Jeanrenaud (cello); LeRoi Moore (pennywhistle, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); John D'earth (trumpet); Butch Taylor (piano, organ); Greg Howard (Chapman stick); Carter Beauford (drums, percussion, background vocals); Brenda White-King, Cindy Myzelle, Tawatha Agee (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Steve Lillywhite.
Recording information: Electric Lady Studios, New York, NY; Plant Recording Studio, Sausalito, CA.
Ensemble: Kronos Quartet.
Photographer: Ellen Von Unwerth.
BEFORE THESE CROWDED STREETS is a true groove salad, as the D.M.B. reports in with even more creative eclecticism than usual. Guest appearances by artists as varied as Alanis Morissette, Bela Fleck and Kronos Quartet are a testament to the collage of sounds present. Occasional ventures into Middle Eastern melodicism feel as natural a part of the band's sound as do its mellow folk grooves and funky rhythm flights. The lyrics are a glad swirl of pop storytelling and trippy mystery, brought to life by the usual confluence of saxophones, violin and precise guitar work that makes this group tick.
Over a fat backbeat, Matthews carries the clever, sultry lyrics of "Rapunzel" with a whimsical vocal blend of growls and falsetto jumps, culminating in a soprano rhapsody by hornman Leroi Moore. The funk-vamp "Stay" makes you want to do just that, featuring a joyous gospel chorus and peppery, staccato horn lines. Excellent, frenetic bowing by Kronos Quartet couples with Matthews' quick picking to drive "The Stone" to a 6/8 fury, only to be resolved with delicate grace. Morisette's lilt and Fleck's colorful banjo wrap this excellent album up tastefully on "Spoon."