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A biased review of Rob Thomas’s Cradlesong

Two types of songs exist in this world. Roller Coaster songs and Message Songs. I believe that to be a truly great artist mastery of both categories is a great asset.

Roller Coaster songs- These take you for a ride; you listen for the rhythm and the emotion (usually one constant emotion). Lyrics are not as important. Examples of Roller Coaster leaning artists include Black Eyed Peas, ZZ Top, AC/DC, Lady Gaga, and Van Halen. Their goal is not always to change the world with their songs, but they will take you for a ride, and it will usually be a real fun one.

Message songs communicate ideas that the artists want people to feel, express, or adopt as their own. The music plays more of a supporting role to the lyrics in these songs. Examples of Message-leaning artists are Bob Dylan, Casting Crowns, and Taylor Swift.

In this day and age, few people are recognized as capable of balancing these two types of songs as well as Rob Thomas. The singer of Matchbox 20 just released his second solo-album, strengthening his personal brand and once again proving mastery of roller coaster songs and message songs. Given, few songs feel 50/50 in that area, and songs almost always lean one way or the other. This album definitely leans more towards the message side than its predeccessor, Something to Be, which leaned  more towards the roller coaster side with hits like “This is how a Heart Breaks” and “Streetcorner Symphony”.

Cradlesong starts out with “Her Diamonds” the first single. It is slow, and gradually builds upon one emotion, growing stronger and stronger until the end. It feels like when you are with a friend and they are breaking down emotionally, and all you can do to help is be there, even if you have nothing to say.

A more balanced roller coaster/ message song is two tracks deeper in with “Give me the Meltdown”. This one is fast, and definitely feels like his MB20 material. It is rock oriented with its strong drum beats, guitars, and lyrics that repeat many times in a rhythmic fashion. At the same time you get the message:

Feelin' worn down like a piece of glass
Doesn't take too much to get yourself to feed your monkey
Tell some white lies
Make and swallow them
You don't see just how you got into this situation

We all lie, some more than others. Most of the time it is because we are scared, either of the people around us or our inadequacies. After only one, we can get so stuck emotionally that we cannot believe our situation.

Late at night, late at night
You weep for something better than the secrets you keep me down
Just lay down, here, close to me
And tell me what you want from me

Thats what we want. We want someone who understands us. Someone who is going to address our fears with unconditional love, and not punish us for our symptoms of fear by being distant or hostile.

Hey now, give me the meltdown
Take it out on me this time around
Oh no, it ain't over now
I can feel the world spin around, around, around
Hey now, give me the meltdown 
Take it out on me, don't let me down
Oh no, it ain't over now I can feel the world spin around, around, around

My last thought on this is that I am thankful for the those few who love me even when I don’t deserve it.

I could go on like this about many of the songs, but in short I give this album the thumbs up. It would be great to see more things like this on Top 40, balancing out the army of exclusively roller-coaster based songs. If this happens, music will regain some of the power it had to connect with people emotionally.

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September 27, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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