Rob Thomas and Santana's collaboration "Smooth"
received massive airplay and got most people wondering,
"who the hell is Rob Thomas?" The
"little-known" singer went on to win three Grammy
Awards - "Song of the Year" (with co-writer Itaal Shur),
"Record of the Year" (along with Santana, producer
Matt Serletic, and engineer/mixer David Thoener) and "Best
Pop Collaboration with Vocals" (with Santana). Now, months
after that wonderful Grammy night, Rob Thomas and Matchbox
Twenty are back with a new album and this time, there is a level
of anticipation. Can Thomas shine without Santana?
After spending two years on the road following the release of "Yourself Or Someone Like You", the band's maturity and strength have grown, making their second album "Mad Season" a much more satisfying experience than their previous effort. Perhaps the comparisons to Hootie And The Blowfish could finally be laid to rest.
With Grammy winner Matt Serletic in the producer's seat once again, the new Matchbox Twenty album boosts of powerful rockers like "Angry" and "Black & White People". The angst is less contrived now and Rob Thomas' emotional vocals, thankfully, seldom degenerates into overdramatic posturing. The highlights on "Mad Season" though are the tender pop songs ("Bed of Lies", "Leave" and "If You're Gone") where Thomas gives his most intense and sensitive vocal delivery.
The band has even added funk elements on the stunning title track and the inevitable Santana's influence can be heard on the foot-tapping track "The Burn". My personal favourite is the delightfully gorgeous "Last Beautiful Girl", a groovy track with soaring harmonies and nifty guitar playing. It epitomizes the transformation of Matchbox Twenty from an unspectacular bar band to one with class written all over it.
"Mad Season" couldn't have come at a better time. Fresh from Rob Thomas' Grammy wins, this album will get the attention it deserves. Success has definitely not ruined Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty. In the big league now, Matchbox Twenty has handled the pressure well and rocks with more self-belief, poise and invention.
Story by Marcus Lee