Rob Thomas


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Listening to cradlesong, the second album from Matchbox Twenty singer/songwriter Rob Thomas, it's hard not to think of him as a man out of time, making big music for a world of miniature niches. Thomas makes music as if it was the turn of the millennium, when there were cross-demographic radio formats and stores to goose sales to diamond status, traits that still serve him well when he's constructing sonic skyscrapers, even if the results don't necessarily feel at home in the modern skyline. With its urgent hooks and surging sincerity, cradlesong is recognizably Thomas' work, right down to its lower-case typography, but with the assistance of longtime producer Matt Serletic he's tweaked the formula of his 2005 solo debut Something to Be in judicious ways, using his worldbeat inflections as an underpinning instead of flair, something that ties the album together. cradlesong is big music about big issues, even inflating personal issues to the universal. If it seems somewhat out of step with its year, that almost makes Thomas' somber, determined craft admirable -- he's doing this not because it'll give him a hit but because he believes in it.

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