Monday, July 6, 2009

Rob Thomas - Cradlesong

RobThomas_CradlesongRob Thomas’ second solo album moves him back toward the Southern rock sensibilities we heard in the first Matchbox 20 albums.  Make no mistake though, Thomas’ solo material isn’t a Matchbox 20 redux, despite the presence of of a track titled “Real World ‘09.”

Cradlesong offers a solid collection of electric-guitar-and-vocals-driven tracks, with several lushly orchestrated songs (including “Her Diamonds” and the title track) that offer up more exotic instrumentation including African and taiko drums, a chamberlain, a bouzouki, an oud and a Portuguese guitar.

The variety of tempos throughout Cradlesong keeps the album interesting.  Thomas still knows how to reel listeners in with the big hooks, from the triumphant chorus of “Give Me the Meltdown” to his soaring vocals on “Someday” to his sing-shout of “Wait/I think I feel hell/No I can’t be myself/And I can’t be nobody else” on “Wonderful.”

Thomas isn’t dependent on the big hooks though, and it’s his skillful songwriting and vocals that make the album shine.  Well aware that he’s never going to be an “edgy” or “revolutionary” artist, Thomas sticks to his familiar themes of heartache, mental anguish and love gained, with a light detour into politics with the song “Fire on the Mountain.”  The result is an engaging, eminently listenable mix of uptempo tracks and gentle ballads that have less of a pop edge than Something to Be, his first solo album, and a touch more Southern rock and country influence.

Check out these cuts: “Give Me The Meltdown” and “Cradlesong

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