Welcome back for the second installment of my series of reviews of Moonalice's Dave's Way box set. I came into the writing of last week's entry not really knowing what to expect, being only mildly familiar with the band as a whole. Before beginning the listening process for this entry, I looked back at the first one, as it was pointed out that I may have been a bit too kind, throwing around a few too many compliments, and not pointing out the flaws. It turns out I wasn't too nice. There are simply very few flaws to point out.
Much like Volumes 1 and 2, the 3rd and 4th volumes are again about as different and unique as their disc sleeves. I left the first two volumes in my rear view mirror (for the time being) knowing one thing: Expect the unexpected. It is with that statement in mind that I began to look at Volumes 3 and 4 for of this set, and it didn't take long to discover the once again that the highlights were abound, except that where instrumental highlights seemed to dominate the first two volumes, the lyrical ability and versatility of the whole band took center stage.
Volume 3 of Dave's Way kicks off with an upbeat, rock n' roll tune, Fifteen Cadillacs. Ann McNamee makes another appearance, with some somewhat unexpected lyrics about celebrities have too many cars, and her all-too-refreshing response: She only needs one car. Cadillacs is followed up by the chuckler of the set, Mr. Spaceman, a quite entertaining country-driven commentary of alien abduction, with spacey instrumentals to match.
It's there that I was pleasantly surprised to see the band take off into yet another interesting direction, embarking on some wonderfully thoughtful and introspective songs about life, love, and making the most of every opportunity with those you love. The first of this series of songs that I have affectionately called "The Friendship and Love album" is Up in the Clouds, a wonderfully upbeat song in which Roger and Ann McNamee share the mic, with Roger describing the breadth of his love (assumedly for Ann!). Clouds is followed, almost fittingly by Wish We Had, in which Ann McNamee reminds us to take advantage of every opportunity with those that we care for, that one can never tell when a missed opportunity can alter the path of life, leaving us only to wonder "What if..."
"Friendship and Love" spills over into Volume 4, almost as if no time had passed between the recording sessions for the two. After asking if we are Tall Enough to fully appreciate the ride that is life, Pete Sears delivers my unquestioned highlight of the trio of songs (along with Dreams in the Middle and Silver Lining) that inspired the nickname for this series of songs. You & Me is a beautifully written and accompanied love song, that I must admit, caught me a bit by surprise during my first listen. It was a little unexpected, but refreshingly different, and is the first jam band song that has ever triggered the following thought: "That would make a perfect wedding song", complete with a fittingly dance worthy instrumental outro that compliments Sears' gentle and loving vocals beautifully. Silver Lining brings "Friendship and Love" to a close by combining thoughtful lyrics about support and devotion with a touch of Grateful Dead peeking through in the guitar melody and solos.
With half of Dave's Way now in the books, I'm continually surprised at the diversity of music that I've heard thus far, and I'm anxiously awaiting beginning to dig into the next two volumes of the set. If they are anywhere near as good as the first four, my friends, we are in for a treat!
If you want to hear some of the highlights from this week's review, check out this week's edition of Bootleggers Beware, streaming live at 10AM EST right here, and don't forget to check out the the first installment of the series here, and get your free download of Moonalice's hit song 4:20 Somewhere.
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