With 2005’s Something to Be, Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas successfully transitioned from leader of the most angst-ridden mainstream band around to bona fide pop star. With massive hits like “Lonely No More”, the album was the moment Thomas transcended the identity he’d forged through his multi-platinum band. Matchbox rhythm guitarist Paul Doucette has his own transcendent moment on this, his first solo project. The album’s title is apparently a reference to the difficulties Doucette endured in its making, marked by the uncertainty of working sans label at the record’s outset. If the quality of these ten songs is any indication of how Doucette’s creative process was refined through turmoil, the struggle was worth it.
The album is a collection of gorgeous, tuneful little gems that often pay tribute to The Beatles (“This City Is Bound to Do Us In”) and the poppier side of Jeff Tweedy (“Calling All Electrical Prints”). Often piano-driven, the songs are buoyant and catchy as hell. Doucette’s vocals are less intense (and less tested) than that of his frontman; yet his tone is endearing, mixing both the raspy and sweet in every note. Doucette receives a little help from his friends (Nina Gordon and Tracy Bonham among them) and lover (wife Moon Zappa), who help round out the sound. At the risk of starting some competition between bandmates (though, unfortunately, there’s likely to be little competition at the cash register), when it comes to creating a truly lasting pop record, it may just be Doucette 1, Thomas 0.