Yes it’s true that I believe
I’m weaker than I used to be
I wear my heart out on my sleeve
Oh, and I forget the rest of me
So begins “Stop” by matchbox twenty, from their album Mad Season. And these lyrics come to mind when I consider Rob Thomas’ solo song “Ever the Same.”
The song hasn’t been released yet; I attended a benefit on August 3rd at which Thomas debuted the song as one that will be featured on his first solo album, which is expected late this year or early in 2005. I’ve thought a lot about “Ever the Same” since hearing it. I want very badly to like it, because I like Thomas and admire his talent. He’s a fantastic songwriter, and he has the voice to support his music besides.
So saying, I still can’t manage to enjoy “Ever the Same.”
The song is a pseudo-love song in which the singer (in this case, Thomas) outlines a desire to work through the tough times with his loved one (wife Marisol?). . . An admirable enough goal, one might suppose. But the song comes off as mostly sappy, and it’s opening image–of soldiers “falling down under the pale moonlight”–conjures more of Saving Private Ryan than warmth. So the song suffers this odd juxtaposition that, for lack of any other way to say it, just doesn’t work for me.
“Ever the Same” is too emotionally heavy for me. Or maybe I just can’t sympathize. Good music speaks to the listener, and the listener identifies because the song conveys a shared experience, a universal. Or, if the experience isn’t shared, the song makes it possible for the listener to feel what the singer is expressing, even without having ever been in the same position.
But “Ever the Same”–the title of which is an expression of unchanging love–merely comes across as naive. There’s just something about “Ever the Same,” that while sweet and heart-felt, doesn’t ring quite true. Which sets the song back.
Thomas is wearing his heart on his sleeve–and he’s weaker than he used to be. As a fan, I know he’s got stronger stuff in him. I only hope it surfaces in time for his solo album.