Music Review: cradlesong

Rob Thomas
Atlantic, 2009


While I enjoyed perhaps 2/3 of the tracks on Thomas' first solo album Something to Be . . . (2005), I find that I like all the songs on cradlesong--rather in the same way I tend to like all the songs on matchbox twenty albums as well. Additionally, while I found some of the juxtapositions of songs on StB rather jarring, cradlesong flows and fits together well, rather like the musical equivalent of a Dove chocolate melting in your mouth.

Of course, the cover art for cradlesong is decidedly unattractive, but never judge an album by its cover, I suppose.

While the single "Her Diamonds" is now in heavy rotation on Mix-style radio stations everywhere, it's only the first of many strong compositions on the album--and, possibly not coincidentally--the first song on the album as well. The upbeat "Give Me the Meltdown" has garnered some attention as well and also sports an erratic music video (while the video for "Her Diamonds" features Alicia Silverstone encased in ice and slowly thawing). I have a decided preference for "Meltdown," as does my three-year-old son. Not sure what that says about me, my son, or the song really.

For the most part, cradlesong is full of songs dealing with relationships, and specifically difficulties in relationships; Thomas has admitted in interviews that he does most of his writing when he's having a bad time. Still and all, songs like the title track and "Mockingbird" have a sweetness to them that impart the bittersweet that comes with loving someone, even when there are problems and despite the imperfections in oneself or one's partner. If music, like any writing, is at its best when it can be appreciated in the absence of its author--by which I mean, one understands the meanings and feelings behind it without having the composer explain separately what he or she meant by something, and one can also relate on a personal level regardless of the original intention of the composer--then cradlesong meets this criteria, far better than anything on the rougher StB ever did. Thomas has long been lauded as a fine songwriter, and this reputation is deserved, but he does especially well here, having knit together both the powerful and the soothing in a way that is almost seamless and thus pleasing to the ear.

1 comment:

Christine said...

I've been seeing a lot of commercials for the album recently. Matchbox Twenty has one of the few albums that I like all the songs on (the More Than You Think You Are album). Hopefully I'll eventually get a chance to listen to Thomas' new one.