Before the success of “Come On Get Higher,” Matt Nathanson always seemed stuck in half-famous limbo, faithfully championed by a small group of fans but unknown to pretty much everybody else. Things changed when “Come On Get Higher” became his first platinum-selling single in 2009, earning props from American Idol and Sugarland (who covered the song on the deluxe version of Love on the Inside) along the way. Nathanson keeps things consistent on his follow-up release, Modern Love, making relatively few changes to the blend of singer/songwriter balladry and smooth, sanded-down pop/rock that made his previous album a hit. This may be the guy’s first record as a semi-star, but the glossy production and A-list cameo by Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles are the only signs that Nathanson has traded up, leaving behind the world of singer/songwriter anonymity for a slightly more mainstream place. The Nathanson/Nettles duet on “Run” is actually one of the album’s most misguided moves -- she sounds far too throaty, too overzealous, too loud for a ballad like that, as though she’s trying to oversing her partner -- but most of Modern Love is almost meticulously inoffensive, shot through with a middle-of-the-road approach that rarely overswings or underwhelms. That’s both the blessing and the curse of this album, which charts a steady path but offers few surprises as a result.
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey