Most of Matt White’s songs pitch their tent in one of the most crowded intersections in contemporary music: the place where Maroon 5’s funky, rock-influenced R&B crosses paths with Jason Mraz’s surfer boy soul. It’s hard to establish your own identity when you’ve got those luminaries as your neighbors, and White sounds best when he takes his music elsewhere, as he does several times on this sophomore album. The highlights on It’s the Good Crazy are the ballads, which are intricately arranged by a panel of producers -- including David Baron, Josh Kaler, Jimmy Messer, and Phantom Planet’s Sam Farrar -- most of whom are simpatico solo songwriters as well. The guys keep things warm and tuneful, recording everything onto analog tape and boosting White’s piano-and-vocals approach with strings, background vocals, and other pop/rock accessories. “Taking on Water” finds him duetting with up-and-coming songbird Emma Lasry while acoustic guitars strum quietly in the background, and “When I Fall” gives him a chance to show off his falsetto, with a chorus that hints at Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work.” Slower numbers aren’t the only place where White can flex his muscles -- on “Honeymoon Phase,” he channels 1980s Paul Simon to tuneful effect -- but It’s the Good Crazy is mostly a showcase for his ballads, currently the only place where Matt White can distinguish himself from his influences or his contemporaries.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey