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Album: Rob Thomas: Something To Be
Street Date: April 19, 2005
Length: 50:05
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by: Shelley

Most will be familiar with Rob Thomas as the lead singer of the multi-platinum band, matchbox twenty. After 9 years as a band, Rob and the other members have taken a break so they can pursue solo projects, before returning to the band. Rob's solo album is probably the most anticipated, as most people are familiar with his voice and songwriting.

1. This Is How a Heart Breaks (3:51) - As the lead off track, this song is perfect. It's a fast-paced, catchy tune that makes the listener move and groove in their seat, as he or she passionately sings: "Well this is it now/Everybody get down/This is all I can take/This is how a heart breaks." This song will probably be the 2nd or 3rd single, depending on what audience the record company wants to attract.

2. Lonely No More (3:46) - This is the first single from the album. Upon the first couple of listens, it came across as way too poppy, but after that 3rd listen or so, it grew on me. Rob has a gift for writing catchy hooks and this song is no different in that regard. Even when not listening to the song, the line, "I don't wanna be lonely no more" continuously circles around in my head.

3. Ever The Same (4:17) - This sweet little ditty was written for Rob's wife while she was going through health issues. You can hear the tenderness and love in the music and lyrics of this song. Any romantic will instantly adore this song. "Just let me hold you while you're falling apart/Just let me hold you so we both fall down." Okay Rob, you've convinced us to let you hold us while we're falling apart.

4. I Am An Illusion (4:51) - At the beginning of this track, Rob samples Bessie Jones' "O Death" and Robert Rudolph sits in on the lap steel guitar at the end, which helps to create a haunting effect in the song. The two lines that stuck out the most to me upon first listening were: "Sometimes I'm people/I never hoped that I would be." Who hasn't been in those shoes before? It's another relatable song from Mr. Thomas, and if you like the bluesy pop-rock sound combined, you will most likely enjoy this tune.

5. When the Heartache Ends (2:52) - This is one of my favorite songs on the album. Rightly so, considering this could very well be a matchbox twenty song. You can hear the optimistic hopefulness in Rob's voice as he sings, "Why don't you tell me my friend/How you'll still be there with me/When the heartache ends/Ohhh no, ohhh no."

6. Something To Be (4:30) - Rob's been looking for something, something he's never seen. And after listening to this track, you get a glimpse into the kind of life he has these days - the kind of attitude he has in regards to the opinions and suggestions of people outside of himself, trying to influence what he writes/does next. "Hey man/Play another one of those heart break songs/Tell another story how things go wrong/And they never get back/My pain is a platinum stack/Take that shit back." Sounds like Rob is saying "Back off!" and they damn well better - he knows what he's doing. Lead guitarist for matchbox twenty & vocalist/guitar for The New Left, Kyle Cook, helps out his band mate and plays guitar on the song.

7. All That I Am (4:29) - The instrumentation in this song is amazing. Starting at 2:27 and continuing for 45 seconds or so, the listener is in for an auditory treat. A beautiful composition which includes instruments, such as the shofar (Hebrew ram's horn), a kanun (Turkish stringed instrument), a duduk (Armenian wind instrument), a marimba, bells, and an orchestral drum ensemble, creates an intense mood that is only helped along by the lyrics from a man who is trying to convince you to let him be all that he is. If you're familiar with matchbox twenty's music, you will see a commonality between this song and Mad Season's "You Won't Be Mine." (Rob has said that this was the song he wrote after seeing "Passion of the Christ" for the first time.)

8. Problem Girl (3:56) - If you're looking for a tune that has a great mixture of acoustic and electric guitar that supports Rob's vocals, this is the song for you. Mike Campbell (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers) sits in on guitar and Rob himself jokes that this could essentially be a song from "Rob Thomas and The Heartbreakers."

9. Fallin' to Pieces (4:12) - Out of all the songs on the album, this is the one that I have had to listen to the most in order to really like it. It's a bit blues and a bit country mixed together. For some reason, Elvis and The Soggy Bottom Boys come to mind when listening. In my opinion, this song is what makes the album 3 1/2 stars, opposed to 4.

10. My, My, My (4:18) - This ballad is soft, sweet, and uplifting. You will find yourself swaying side to side and singing the words "my, my, my," even if you don't know the rest of the lyrics. Just listen.

11. Streetcorner Symphony (4:08) - This song is purely about getting together with all of your friends and fellow man to have a good time. John Mayer joins Rob on this track by playing lead guitar. Like "Downfall" (a track on matchbox's last studio record, More Than You Think You Are), a gospel chorus adds a certain "community" type feel to the song. You can't listen to this without feeling a sense of happiness and togetherness.

12. Now Comes The Night (4:55) - This track was recorded in one take with Rob on piano at 11pm back in August 2004. He sings about sticking it out with his wife (who was ill at the time) in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. The sincerity and emotion exhibited in this song is obvious even to the most blasť listener. Rob + piano = brilliance.

Once you get past the fact that this is not a matchbox twenty album, you can see the influences and styles of music that Rob enjoys himself and wants his fans to hear in his own music. Overall, for his first solo effort, he has delivered the same quality of songs we've grown to love the past 9+ years.


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