Matchbox frontman expands his musical range but strikes few real sparks
Give Rob Thomas credit for this much: His solo debut certainly sounds different
from the adult-alternative diet-rock of his band Matchbox Twenty—at least half the time. Punchy horns and a few electronic flourishes invest the best of these tracks (like “Streetcorner Symphony”) with a Top 40 accessibility more akin to “Smooth”—his ingratiating Santana collaboration—than Matchbox’s mid-tempo pseudo-balladry. Still, “Lonely No More” and “Problem Girl” suggest those differences are cosmetic at best. Worse, Thomas hasn’t yet figured out that as long as he mistakes ponderous poetics (“I am the sound of love’s arriving”) and platitudes (“Let your words live on beyond this life”) for depth, the surface trappings of his self-serious songs won’t matter all that much.