Rob Thomas has sort of been absent from my existence for quite some time. And that is on purpose. Years ago, I got a little Rob Thomas burn out. So, I stopped listening to him and Matchbox Twenty. When I saw he had a new album coming out, I figured it was time to open up my world to a little Rob Thomas again.
Rob’s last album was ‘The Great Unknown’ back in 2015 and after 4 years, he thought it was time to come back with some new music. So, the album came out and I dropped the needle (not really, I pushed play on my phone but you get the point). The album is 12 songs and at less than 40 minutes in length, it was a quick listen. Almost perfect for my drive to work.
And what do you get? You get a simple set of songs that are so well crafted and so catchy and pure pop bliss. Rob has delivered an album that is so spot on and refreshing that you walk away with such a big smile after listening that you have to hit repeat and play it again. Maybe my time away has made me long for that great voice and the Rob Thomas sound, but whatever it is, this album is that jolt of lightning I needed and has quickly become a favorite for the year.
Rob isn’t chasing any trends, it his sound. There is no hip-hop guest appearances, no songs featuring anyone and no rap breaks in any of the songs. He isn’t selling out to get on the radio. He is being Rob, pure and simple. And really, what else do you need.
The opening track, “One Less Day (Dying Young)”, is about living for today and every day he makes it to sleep is good day and he gets further away from dying young. It is a great message and a blast of a song. The song and the album, for that matter, is a pure pop, no disguising it and no apologies.
“Timeless” comes at you as a love song and it is, but listen to the lyrics. They are all titles from songs in the 80’s. It is a celebration of a time when the pop songs were simple and fun which is what this whole album feels like.
Not every song is upbeat, he does slow things down at times and “Can’t Help Me Now” is one of those songs. It is a beautiful track and the theme is that it is okay to have bad days.
Next up is “Funny” which is one of my favorites. It talks about how life tends to work itself out no matter what you do. It is an optimist shining his light. The we roll into the 2nd single and another favorite track that is so upbeat and fun you get caught up in the excitement. The song is “I Love It” and let me tell you, Rob seems to be loving life and this album is a testament to that feeling.
Rob slows it back down with another touching and heartfelt ballad. “The Man To Hold the Water” is an acoustic track with almost country feel to it with some twangy guitar. The song is about being there for the person you love and you can feel that he means it. Rob keeps the album interesting with the variety of songs as you don’t know what the next song will bring.
Rob is very reflective on this song on “We Were Beautiful”. There is a great groove to this song with the drum and bass. Another slower track that seems to have Rob thinking more about his aging (he is getting close to 50) and remembering a time when he was younger and unstoppable. It is really a cool song both sonically and thematically.
Rob starts it slow with only a piano and his vocals on “It’s Only Love”. The tempo picks up slightly but never goes full on pop mode. It stays as a nice ballad which he has had a few so far and is the only real fault with the album. Too many ballads although they are all great songs.
Now Rob must understand what I am thinking at this point because he changes it up right when it is needed with “Early in the Morning”. This one has a dark tone to it and you can feel the energy building, but it never fully explodes. However, after listening you are ready to take on the world as it .
“The Worst In Me” is up next and we are back to pure pop song. It is catchy and upbeat and has you swinging back and forth. It is cheesy, but still a fun song and worth listening to as it brings back the joy. I do love the line “the worst in me, brings out the best in you”.
“Tomorrow” is another enjoyable song with a great beat and some more piano. With upbeat song it sounds like a happy little song, but the lyrics are far from that especially when you have a line like “Tomorrow will only break your heart”. I like the contradiction between the music and the lyrics.
The album ends with a ballad, “Breathe Out”, but not any ballad. It is by far the best and most meaningful. It’s main feature is the acoustic guitar and Rob beautifully pontificating the lyrics. There is also some nice electric guitar work. The song works on every level.
And there you have it. Since there are no songs I would delete, the track score is 12 out of 12 or 100%. It is a great set of songs. Now, my overall rating of the album is going to be a 4.5 out 5.0 Stars. The reason being it is too ballad heavy. I liked the upbeat start of the album and there should have been more of that on the back half. The album is really strong and its simplicity and brevity is its beauty. Rob seems to be a in a good place in life and this album is a reflection of that. As he is approaching 50, you can hear him be more reflective of the past and yet content with where he is today. It is a good place to be and so is this album…a good place to be.