After reuniting with matchbox twenty for 2007's "Exile on Mainstream," Rob Thomas returns to his solo work with his new offering "cradlesong," and the result is a fresh mix of tunes that blends 80's synth-pop with today's current pop sound. The album plays out as such.
1. Her Diamonds- 8/10
The first single off the album, "Diamonds" is a feel-good midtempo number that builds to a rousing chorus. A great summer song that is sure to continue growing at radio.
2. Gasoline- 10/10
Starts off with a digitized drum beat before breaking into an all out 80's power pop ballad that is brought up nicely to today's modern pop standards. The chorus is very simple, yet extremely catchy.
3. Give Me The Meltdown- 9/10
The jangling guitar riffs during the verses of this song remind me very much so of David Bowie's "Let's Dance." This is an uptempo number with solid backing vocals and an extremely catchy chorus. Once again, the 80's synth-pop influence is present in this one. This is sure to be a favorite at Thomas' live shows.
4. Someday- 9/10
A beautifully arranged song with heartfelt lyrics, "Someday" represents what Rob Thomas does best as an artist. An emotional mid-tempo ballad with a memorable piano riff echoing throughout and a solid sing-a-long portion at the end, this is a sure-fire single.
5. Mockingbird- 10/10
Plain and simple, one of the best uptempo songs Rob Thomas has put out to date. The verses build up amazingly well to an undeniably catchy chorus filled with solid backing vocals and the on-point emotional delivery of Thomas' phrasing. The lyrics in this song are extremely easy to relate to and the 80's synth-pop is once again present throughout.
6. Real World 09'- 7/10
For those like me expecting this to be a new interpretation of the hit Thomas had with matchbox twenty in 1997, you will probably be a bit disappointed to hear that it is not. "Real World 09'" is an uptempo synth-pop song that is pleasant enough, but suffers from having so many catchy songs surrounding it.
7. Fire On The Mountain- 9/10
This song starts off with an almost tribal drumbeat that keeps the pace slow through the verses before building up to a soaring chorus. The guitar riffs during the chorus give this song an almost epic feel to it.
8. Hard On You- 7/10
A pleasant midtempo number that maintains a very relaxing sound throughout.
9. Still Ain't Over You- 8/10
This is a completely new type of sound for Rob Thomas. An uptempo number that builds well to a chorus that is chalk full of searing guitar riffs and emotional phrasing.
10. Natural- 8/10
A haunting midtempo tune that's tone can be best described as raw emotion.
11. Snowblind- 8/10
A beautifully written midtempo song with solid backing vocals.
12. Wonderful- 9/10
This song melds together big band instruments, searing guitar riffs, and well crafted melodies seamlessly. The result is one of the most unique and fresh songs on the album.
13. Cradlesong- 9/10
A song that begins with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, Rob Thomas tugs at the heartstrings with this emotional tearjerker. Throw in some beautiful backing vocals and amazing lyrics and you have a truly exceptional song.
14. Getting Late- 7/10
This slow tempo folksy ballad is a nice reflective tune to end the album with.
15. Years From Now- 8/10
Another solid midtempo number that Thomas fans will definitely want in their collection.
16. Remembered Well- 8/10
Similar to the big band sound of "Wonderful" but slowed down to an almost 50's style sound, this is another solid midtempo tune.
After the success of 2005's "Something to Be..." you have to give Rob Thomas credit for not sticking to the same formula with "cradlesong." Rob takes a creative leap of faith with his latest release, and the result is a fresh batch of songs that are sure to get tons of airplay over the next couple of years. "cradlesong" serves as another entertaining chapter in the story of one of the best songwriters in the business today.
on July 1, 2009
With Cradlesong, Rob Thomas once again demonstrates that he is among the top songwriters and musicians of a generation. This album will appeal to a vast audience with its vintage pop inspired sound and lyrics that are widely relevant to everyday issues that people face in this world, like crazy politics and faltering relationships. Don't expect a Matchbox Twenty or Something to Be sound from this album; Rob is expanding his talents and walking a bit of new ground here, but his deftness with melody and lyrics provide the quality and depth that one would expect. In my opinion, every track is a winner, but I personally can't stop playing "Give Me the Meltdown." Rob's vocals on Cradlesong are excellent and he displays some range not seen before, like the high notes in "Snowblind," proving that he has as much talent with performing his songs as he does with writing them. In short, Rob Thomas/Matchbox Twenty fans will love this album, and so will anyone else.
on July 16, 2009
First, I adore Rob Thomas. He's one of my favorite song writers and certainly an amazing singer. I've seen Matchbox five times and I saw his solo show three times--I even paid for a VIP package so I could meet him. So yes, I am a major fan. But, to me, this second album of solo material just lacks the punch and depth from his first work.
"Her Diamonds" is brilliant--a great pop song that shows how much he loves his wife. When he's writing about painful points in his life, the man evokes a compassion and artistry that truly hook you in. If you know the story behind "3 AM," you cannot help but feel empathy for Rob and his family.
But beyond the first song, the rest of the album just doesn't portray the creativity we all know Thomas can exude. The songs are forgettable and he makes far too much use of backing vocalists that sometimes overpower the song. The writing on this set pales. "Real World 09" sounds like the theme song to a television show on the Disney channel, "Mockingbird" sounds like a song meant for an American Idol runner-up. Only on "Still Ain't Over You" and "Natural" does Thomas capture an edge--even though if it never measures up to something like "I Am An Illusion."
The album isn't a total bust. After all, it is HIM singing and his voice remains amazing. As he gets older, he's sounding a lot more sultry and willing to try different vocal techniques. It's just that Thomas can certainly do better and my hope is that next time he will. I know he has his fans and can do no wrong to them most of the time. But I think that kind of blind devotion is a bit much and every artist is known to make a wrong turn.
If you're a fan of his, you'll at least like the album. If you've never liked Thomas, you'll swear he's fallen! However, he's still capable of being mighty...let's hope that happens the next time he records!
on January 8, 2016
Lousy!! I love Rob and Matchbox20. But this is in my opinion, horrible!
I gave it to my sisters kid, he gave it away too. Seems like every song on it they did before..but those were good. Not these.
Come on Rob, put in the work and do another album like "Something to be". One of the best albums of all time, and Robs BEST by far!! Stop making this stuff. You can hear your hearts not in it. Hasn't been since you did "something to be"..you evolved, and it was great. Dont go out like this pal. It sucks!
on August 7, 2009
I have never sung a song with Robert Kelly Thomas on stage, been a member of one of his bands, nor was present when won his Grammys, but we are however old friends of some twenty years and in that time I have seen him progress from playing his little Casio keyboard (writing brilliantly even then) to being a bright, shining star. Cradlesong is just another step in what will be a long and successful career. This is not a CD for just his or Matchbox Twenty fans, it is one for anyone who loves well crafted music. One of the songs may be titled "Her Diamonds," but this is one of his. I will not go into a song by song review. I will say however that once you add this CD to your collection, it will be one that you will play often and for many years to come. Songwriters like Kelly come along rarely and he very well may be the best of his generation, do not miss this CD. Being someone who has known him for many years, you might think I am biased, but he would be the first to tell you that if I thought something he produced was crap, I would say say so. I am happy to say that I cannot say that about this CD or indeed any of the songs thereon.
on June 10, 2014
This cd is incredibly exciting - take it to the gym and it inspires me to move fast. But I was thinking something else, ,too. I think this cd would make a great Broadway show -- you know, like "American Idiot." 'Cause it has really rocking music, but also some beautiful ballads. And it seems to be all about love. So hey, Broadway Genius Michael Mayer, I'm thinking you could do this music justice on B'way.
on July 31, 2009
While I enjoyed Rob Thomas' debut effort, 2005's SOMETHING TO BE..., I couldn't help but feel that something was missing...a bit of an edge, more variety....something! It was all too neat, all too smooth (no pun intended!). It needed...more.
Well, with his second solo release, CRADLESONG, that's just what Thomas delivers. One of the most varied, energetic albums so far this year, CRADLESONG showcases a number of sides to the Matchbox Twenty frontman, and they all (pretty much!) work!
Things kick off with the disc's first single, the lilting "Her Diamonds." A heartfelt lead vocal and a shimmering arrangement cushion pained lyrics about being unable to help a loved one when they're hurting: "By the light of the moon/She rubs her eyes/Says it's funny how the night/Can make you blind/I can just imagine." Nice.
"Gasoline" is one of my two favorite tracks off of CRADLESONG....from the '80's intro to the soaring guitars, this is just a cool cut! Toss in a killer lead vocal and powerful lyrics ("It never took a lot to make this hard/'Cuz you were so off balance/And I knew all the words to set you off"), and you have a hit single, just waiting to happen!
"Give Me The Meltdown" has a nice INXS vibe to it, with Thomas delivering the song in a sly, slinky manner. The arrangement is fresh and energetic, but it never overpowers, allowing Thomas' vocals to weave in and out, curling around the lyrics, all highs and lows. Another gem!
"Someday" is a gorgeous cross between power ballad and mid-tempo rocker. Thomas' lead vocal is strong and assured, floating along, buoyed by Matt Serletic's lovely piano riffs. The rest of the track is just as solid, allowing the some what dark lyrics to sparkle.
There's something about "Mockingbird" that just seems a tad bit....dated. Don't get me wrong...the track's graced with a nice lead vocal and crisp instrumentation, and I love the lines "Take my hand/I will lead you through the broken promise land", but, overall, there's a "been-there-done-that" feel here.
The same can't be said about "Real World '09", my favorite track on CRADLESONG. There's such an energy to this cut...it's absolutely infectious! Thomas' voice swoops and soars, while Serletic's programming is brilliant; you get the feeling you're listening to a major drum brigade here, and you can just picture the dance remix! But...and this is a big "but!"...it never seems forced or calculated. Thomas isn't goig for the latest "hip" sound here....this is something organic, something from the gut, something REAL! In other words, a track that just came about in the most honest, truthful, FUN way....I LOVE this song!
"Fire On The Mountain" is a really unique number....it's a pinch U2, a dose of Simple Minds, a sample of Midnight Oil....yet, it's 100% Rob Thomas. Anchored by Michael Bland's blistering drumming and a smoldering lead vocal, this cautionary tale ("There's evil in the garden/But you don't see it/I can tell") draws from many sources, but never seems like a copy...Thomas acknowledges his inperations, then makes it all his own. Another one of CRADLESONG's high points!
"Hard On You" has a nice island groove that brilliantly offsets the heavier vibe of "Fire..." Thomas' lead vocal almost bounces along, perfectly backed by Sherree Brown and Robyn Troup. Add some atmospheric African drums and tasty percussion courtesy of Lenny Castro, and you have a very nice little number indeed!
I love the blast of gut-wrenching rock that opens "Still Ain't Over You"....I just wish the rest of the song continued to rock as hard! Yes, it still rocks, and it's a nice enough arrangement, but the album could've used a real ROCKER right about now, and those opening chords just hint at what could have been. And that's too bad.
There's a dark, other-worldly quality to "Natural." Thomas delivers a haunting lead vocal, while special mention has to be made of Sean Hurley's awesome bass playing. Thoughtful lyrics ("Are we just sitting here/Waiting on the end/Like it's only natural") just add to an already powerful cut.
"Snowblind" is a nice mid-tempo rocker, full of smart, insightful lyrics ("This is our life/It's all that we get/The days are all numbered/And the nights are all spent").
"Wonderful" is a horns-drenched rave-up that sports a rockin' lead vocal that's practically spit out, and edgy lyrics ("No I can't be myself/And I can't be nobody else/But if I could/Would you love me then").
There's a delicate beauty to the disc's title track that's simply enchanting. The arrangement just dances along ~ special shout out for Bryan Sutton's mandolin playing! ~ while Thomas' vocal is equal parts sweet, soothing and sentimental. Yet another hit single waiting to happen!
Things end on an upbeat note with the back porch jam that is "Getting Late." The relaxed toe-tapper has a nice shuffle to it, with an easy-going lead vocal steering it along. Toss in some smart lyrics and you have a nice wrap-up to an already good disc.
And this IS a good album. With CRADLESONG ~ one of 2009's strongest, most consistent, albums so far this year ~ Rob Thomas proves he's a major contender. (As with all my reviews, I'm giving the disc an extra half a star for including the lyrics, something that seems to be grossly out of fashion this year!).