If you’ve flicked on your TV at least once in the last two years, you’ve likely already heard Matthew Morrison‘s voice. In the role of Will Schuester on the love-it-or-hate-it program Glee, Morrison has had ample opportunity to show off his vocal chops, though he’s been relegated to mainly covers (and some unfortunate rapping) thus far. Just recently, he took his first big musical step away from the show, releasing his self-titled debut.
Right off the bat, you can tell that this isn’t exactly the most original album in the world. From the opening track and lead single, “Summer Rain”, a good half of the tunes sound almost painfully generic and horribly overproduced. The track offers up a dull Californian beach ukulele riff that goes nowhere. Let’s not even get started on “Don’t Stop Dancing”, which seems to have been the producers going “Welp, pop album, we need a random dance song!” Tracks such as “My Name” attempt to distinguish themselves a little bit, with simple, clean guitar riffs, and smooth strings used to support Morrison’s vocals. Even then, it still feels as if we’ve heard this same exact song a few years, or even a decade ago, by another singer or band.
A few other singers join Morrison for three of the album’s songs. However, these collaborations aren’t always very smooth. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” has Gwenyth Paltrow seeming to have followed Morrison off set and into the recording booth. We’ve already heard the man sing this song on Glee, and this version at that. Paltrow’s vocals are weak, barely even supporting Morrison’s, and the backing orchestra takes away from the crisp simplicity of the version already heard on television. The Glee feel of mash-ups comes shortly after, when Elton John joins in on a medley of “Mona Lisas and Mat Hatters” and “Rocketman”, which fails to amount to little more than a gratuitous cameo.
If you’re a Gleek, I don’t think I have to tell you whether to check out this album or not. You probably already have it. But for everyone else, there’s nothing at all new to be heard. Morrison has a talented voice, but you might as well stick to Glee to hear it.