For 20 years, Rob Thomas has found lasting success as the front man of Matchbox 20, a solo performer and a songwriter for everyone from Santana to Mick Jagger. The choice to remove oneself from a band setting and forge a new path in solo music rarely yields a successful outcome, yet Thomas has made the transition and coasted on his own momentum with grace. I credit this to the universality of his lyrics, his formulaic yet unpredictable production and instinctive musical ear. Thomas’ new album The Great Unknown stays true to these attributes and dives bravely into the more sonic side of pop music- one which he hasn’t fully explored in his previous two solo albums. Its first single “Trust You” premiered this spring, a driving, upbeat pop anthem produced in collaboration with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder. The second single “Hold On Forever” draws out the more low key end of his songwriting spectrum, an acoustic ballad written for a friend in need.
“One Shot” throws it back to our “Best Day Of My Life” phase, where everything on the radio sounded suspiciously like American Authors and Imagine Dragons playing simultaneously, while “Heaven Help Me” pretty much sums up the head-pounding blues the morning after a night of sequentially terrible decisions that we’ve all lived through at some point. The Great Unknown is essentially a diversified conglomerate of both Top 40 and indie sounds, crafted smoothly by a veteran writer and performer.