Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What we're listening to: When Everything Breaks Open by Matt Morris

Find it in the catalog!

When Everything Breaks Open is the major label debut by singer-songwriter Matt Morris. Although this is his first major label album, Matt is by no means new to the music industry. He gained an instant following after appearing on The All New Mickey Mouse Club during the early '90s. After the show's cancellation Matt performed with his father, country singer Gary Morris, and appeared on several of his albums (My Son... Your Christmas, Live at the Tretyakov Gallery, Lone Star Knight). He also collaborated with other artists, like friend Christina Aguilera; they co-wrote five songs on her 2002 album Stripped in addition to Kelly Clarkson's hit song "Miss Independent." In 2003 Matt independently released the album UnSpoken (now out-of-print), which demonstrated his enormous range on songs such as "The World I'm Living In" and "Let Me." With friend Justin Timberlake he co-wrote UnSpoken's "Go Away," the track "All Over Again" from Timberlake's 2006 album FutureSex/LoveSounds, and "The Only Promise That Remains" from Reba McEntire's album Duets (2007). Matt was the first artist to be signed to Timberlake's record company, Tennman Records; WEBO was originally released on that label at the beginning of this year, and then was re-released (without hidden bonus track "100,000 Strong") on Interscope Records on July 13. This is a new CD to the collection that I recommend you taking a listen to.

With a powerful dance beat behind "Don't You Dare" Matt's vocals reaches Adam Lambert-esque heights, while on "Money" Matt takes a laid-back approach to singing about how greed affects society. You will find yourself bouncing to the reggae beat and positive energy of "Love." The country-twinged "Bloodline" has a haunting quality to its melody and lyrics, telling the story of a woman abandoned by a man and struggling to provide for herself and the kids. He switches gears for the soaring chorus of "Live Forever," one of my favorites on the album, and slows the music down on the piano-based "Let It Go" and tender "Someone To Love You." I really like the Coldplay-inspired guitar on "Just Before the Morning." Matt again changes the tempo on the funky, soulful cut "You Do It For Me" that will make you want to get up and dance.

"The Un-American," another of the album's highlights, is a commentary on our often material and judgmental culture. Matt affects a prim and proper, mocking tone to his vocals and sarcastically describes "The Un-American," who "needs a personal Jesus" and "ought to take a trip to Disney / Get his head on straight." This song, in addition to "Eternity," are two tracks I'd recommend you skip to listen to first.

Originally included on UnSpoken, the song "Eternity" appears on WEBO in a new, extended version. This is one of my all-time favorite songs from Matt because of the amazing vocals and imagery in the lyrics. He sings from the point of view of a person recounting his past lives: "I was the prosecutor / I was put on trial / I put forth the accusation / I made the denial." As he progresses through the song recounting his life experiences, Matt builds momentum with guitar, piano, and the conviction in his singing. I think the message of the song is to remember that you must live with yourself for your actions: "what you do and / what you be is go'n follow you like it follow me, and be / with you for eternity."

On WEBO Matt is in control of a variety of musical styles. His soulful voice tackles everything from pop to R&B. Love and staying true to relationships over material things is a theme found in many of the songs. As a longtime Matt Morris fan, I'm certain this album will be embraced by many more listeners.