"You don't need to prove a thing to me/Just give me faith, make me believe/Come on, save me/Save me Mister walking man if you can/Come on, save me/Save me Mister stranger if you please … or am I too far gone?"
— from "Save Me"
When artists work solo apart from their bands—especially one with a proven track record for more than ten years—it's usually because they have something extremely personal or important to share. Dave Matthews fits the profile. Though eager to record with his best–selling band again soon, it's clear that recent marriage and fatherhood have caused the talented singer/songwriter to look inward. The result is some of Matthews' most personal lyrics yet, which would have been an irregular fit in his band's collaborative writing process. Picking up where Dave Matthews Band's Busted Stuff left off, Some Devil straddles the fence between hope and melancholy, joy and sadness, dark and light. It also finds Matthews once again flirting with faith.
Granted, Matthews has expressed belief in a lot of things over the years. Yes, he regularly writes about sexual relationships—this album's "Stay or Leave" laments a lover's departure after a moment of intimacy. And it's no secret that he's pro–hemp either; in fact, 10% of Some Devil's CD booklet is made of it. But do these things negate Matthews's quest for spiritual truth? Is he perhaps now slowly gravitating to the things that matter most? Both "Gravedigger" and "Too High" are somber reminders that life is short and death is inevitable, with the latter asking us what our legacy will be when our time is up. "Up and Away" is an unabashed love song to his wife, and "Baby" is written for his newborn daughter.
The album's title comes from Matthews' song of the same name, briefly alluding to spiritual warfare to illustrate the burden of conflicting emotions that linger from a failed relationship. There are hints of faith in "Grey Blue Eyes," and "Dodo" could be viewed as belief in things beyond science and rational thought. More intriguing is the moody and hymn–like "Trouble," which seems to recognize that a change in heart is dramatic—and in the case of a cold heart, unwanted: "Here I stand, head bowed to thee/My empty heart begs you, leave me be/But I confess you know too well that I have fallen/Pray your mercy give to me/Pray your mercy shine." Then there's the blues–gospel inflected "Save Me" (excerpted here and above), seemingly a plea from a wandering soul for Christ's redemption: "I don't need you to stop the sunshine, no/I don't need you to turn water into wine, no/I don't need you to, to fly/I'm just asking you to save me."
Matthews' spiritual searching apparently became a little more focused after the album's recording. A fall 2003 episode of VH–1's Top Twenty Video Countdown replayed footage of the artist on location while filming the video for "Gravedigger" at a church. It so happened that a youth retreat was being held there during the shoot. The kids, obviously thrilled to meet the superstar, excitedly asked him if he had gone through any recent faith changes. Matthews affirmed that he had been through "a lot of faith changes," but also added that he had been "washed by the blood of the lamb—that's where it starts." When asked if he would pray with them, he declined saying that he preferred private prayer to community prayer, but then encouraged them to pray for him on their own. We shall indeed, as Dave Matthews continues to wrestle with the greater questions of life.
Unless specified clearly, we are not implying whether this artist is or is not a Christian. The views expressed are simply the author's. For a more complete description of our Glimpses of God articles, click here.