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Rob Thomas
Before …Something To Be, before Matchbox Twenty, and before Tabitha's Secret, there was Rob Thomas.

For the man born in Germany on Valentine's Day in 1972, music has always been a calling. He spent most of his childhood in South Carolina and Florida, dropping out of high school at the age of 17 to make music. Thomas made his way to Orlando and in 1993, formed a band called Tabitha's Secret with fellow musicians Brian Yale and Paul Doucette. After enjoying moderate success, the group disbanded and Thomas, Yale and Doucette teamed up with Adam Gaynor and Kyle Cook to form a new band, which came to be known as Matchbox Twenty. Matchbox Twenty was a breakthrough for Thomas. Fans will be familiar with hits such as Push, 3 AM, If You're Gone, Disease and Unwell, all of which were written by him. When the band decided to take a hiatus in 2004, Thomas didn't take a break from song-writing but instead headed to the studio to record his debut solo album …Something To Be.

The album is proof that Rob Thomas is clearly a gifted musician. While his Grammy-winning duet Smooth with Carlos Santana put Thomas on the map, …Something To Be is an indication that he is here to stay. Thomas has shifted away from the rock roots he cultivated with Matchbox Twenty to create a pop album that is pure power. Sporting a new image with his short-cropped hair, Thomas captures the energy of his entire solo effort in the video for his first single Lonely No More. The foot-stomping, bass-thumping single, a hit both in the US and in India, is by no means the best song on the album.

…Something To Be begins with This Is How A Heart Breaks, an electrifying song that is consistent with the energy found in the rest of the album. Lonely No More centers on the lyrics 'I don't have to pay for this…' which are the first lyrics Thomas had for it. For a song that is about anger, the single sounds surprisingly carefree and even takes on a nightclub theme.

While the faster songs set the tone for the album, the ballads are what truly shine. The best song on the album is When The Heartache Ends, which ironically almost did not make it on the album. Thomas credits the unique sound of this song to guitarist Mike Campbell, who has played with great bands such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. But the beauty of this song can also be seen on ...Something More, Thomas's bonus CD found only in target Stores in the US. Even without Campbell's guitar and with only Thomas and a piano, the song retains its sound and it is difficult to determine which version is better than the other.

Ever The Same, one of Thomas's favorites, was created at a time when he was going through personal trouble. The end of Matchbox Twenty's last tour coupled with his wife's illness affected him and as a result he wrote this song in one sitting. The gritty mix between hope and despair come through in the lyrics, and the song sounds deeply honest and heartfelt.

The title track, Something To Be, perhaps emphasizes the importance of Thomas's solo career as he sings, 'I've been looking for something/ something I've never seen/ We're all looking for something/ Something to be...'

Thomas seems to have found his something, and if his recent tour is any indication, his fans are more than willing to take in his solo offering.

I've been a Matchbox Twenty fan for almost a decade, and was more than excited when I found out that Rob Thomas was going to perform live in Columbus, Ohio, a mere half hour away from where I was. On April 23, 2005, I had the opportunity to watch him in concert along with fans ranging from teenagers to fifty-year-olds. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience...this was my night.

Quick on the heels of the release of …Something to Be, Thomas went on a promotional tour in the United States. He kicked off his tour in San Francisco on April 15, traveling across the country to end in Washington DC, two weeks later, performing at sold out concerts each time. If the show in Columbus, Ohio, was any indication, he entertained fans every step of the way.

You can read the rest of our feature on Rob Thomas in the June 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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