If you haven't heard the name Matt Morris, or found yourself jamming out to his tunes, you soon will. Matt, a resident of Denver, Colorado, is prepping the release of his debut album, titled "When Everything Breaks Open". Coincidence? I think not. The soulful, pop tracks delivered on his first effort indicate that Matt is destined to break wide open.
But this won't be Morris' first time in the spotlight. He got his start on The New Mickey Mouse Club (and there is plenty of footage to prove it), where he acted, sung, and danced his way into the hearts of many alongside Britney Spears, Keri Russell, Christina Aguilera, and Justin Timberlake. It was there that Matt truly got his "break", but no thanks to Disney or the show's producers. It was his relationship with the other cast members that would soon turn his dreams into reality.
Matt began penning songs for some of his MMC friends, including the stand out tracks on Aguilera's "Stripped" album, and the track, "(Another Song) All Over Again", which appeared on Justin Timberlake's "Future Sex/Love Sounds". Morris also co-wrote "The Only Promise That Remains" for Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson's first hit, "Miss Independent", but it's not one that he's prepared to cover at any of his upcoming shows, so Clarkson fans keep the requests to yourself. (Sorry Matt!) His knack for writing some killer pop tunes was clear, but little did the world know, he had his own voice, literally and metaphorically, that he was ready to share with the world.
The star of the album is undoubtedly Matt's smooth and rich voice, which has the ability to span his range from deep baritone to a high falsetto within a few bars in a single track. And while it's hard to pinpoint just one moment on the disc, filled with thirteen delicately chosen tracks, as the standout, the thought provoking "Bloodline" is flawless. Matt delivers some of his most gut wrenching lyrics, while teaming with one of my favorite female artists Patty Griffin, who lends her voice to the backdrop on the song.
"Don't You Dare", a long time favorite of mine, opens the album with an assertive authority that carries on with tracks like "In This House" and the soulful jams, "Love" and "You Do It For Me". "Money", which poses the question, "How you make change without money?", blends Morris and Timberlake's voices nicely through the chorus and provides one of the most radio-friendly tracks in the bunch. "Live Forever" is the most touching moment on the album, while providing the LP's title lyric, "When everything breaks open/ everything breaks down" and is reminiscent of something that easily could have been a track from another Denver band, The Fray. And while The Fray don't make any appearances on this album, "Just Before the Morning" teams Matt with another talented Denver musician, Dave Preston, who co-wrote the track with Morris and is now touring with the singer on his promotional tour across the country.
"The Un-American" has the catchiest melody on the album, while providing a heavy, yet sarcastic, lyrical content. The track, which is even more fun when Matt performs it live, has been playing on radio stations across the country and is making its way into Un-American, er American, homes. This album is undoubtedly one the best of the new decade and I'm already anticipating more from this talented "star on the rise".
And if you haven't yet had a chance to check out Morris perform live, you must visit his website to find out when he'll be in your area because his is one show you don't want to miss. If he's not going to be in your neck of the woods anytime soon, you can see him live on David Letterman on 1/15, The CBS Early Show on 1/16, and when he stops by to visit Ellen on 1/19. "When Everything Breaks Open" is available on iTunes now, and will be officially released on Tuesday, January 12th.
BEST BET: Ensuring you receive the standout bonus track, "100,000 Strong". The track is a perfect way to end the journey Morris takes listeners on through "When Everything Breaks Open".
BETTER LEFT UNSAID: Since each track is so un-apologetically honest to the person that Matt Morris is, I, too, will be so - there's nothing wrong with this one.