Millions of fans know him as “Glee’s” eternally optimistic high school choir director Will Schuester, but MCA Music’s newest solo artist, Matthew Morrison, shows you another side of that talent on his self-titled debut album, where the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical star proves his skills as a songwriter and even at strumming a ukulele.
On the album’s first single, “Summer Rain,” a rhythmic reggae tune he co-wrote with Claude Kelly (Bruno Mars, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera) and hit Norwegian duo Espionage’s Espen Lind and Amund Bjorklund (Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister”), Morrison looks back on his 20s, when he worked his way up from a chorus line dancer to a Broadway star, remembering an idyllic tryst up on the roof somewhere in Manhattan.
“That’s about an ex-girlfriend of mine,” he explains. “What it’s like to be young, in love, and in New York City without a care in the world. It’s something that, when I’m 65, I’m going to look back on and think, ‘That was an awesome moment.’ It was actually the first song I wrote for the album.”
Morrison’s debut album also includes a duet with his “Glee” co-star Gwyneth Paltrow on a version of the classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” the same song he sang at the audition—learning how to play ukulele in the process—which earned him his starring role in the hit Fox TV show.
“It’s my favorite song of all time,” says Morrison, who says this version, on which he plays ukulele, is based on the cover by Hawaiian player Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, one he also played on the final show of the first season. “I sing the prelude, which not many people do. I feel it’s as beautiful as the rest of the song, and that’s what makes it a little different.”
Morrison was also joined in the studio by Sting for a cover of his gospel-flavored “Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot,” featuring a full-on church choir as well as Elton John for a “Glee”-style mash-up of “Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters” and “Rocket Man.”
The next one
“I love this album, but this is just the beginning,” he says. “I’m still figuring things out—who I am as an artist, the stories I want to tell. It’s going to be a process. As proud as I am of this record, I’m looking forward to the next one and the one after that. It’s going to be a nice journey.” For Matthew Morrison, it already has been, with a whole new chapter to come.
Promising a mix of originals and covers, Morrison recorded tracks for the album in Los Angeles, New York City, and London, and collaborated with several writers, including Steve Kipner (The Script, Cheryl Cole), JC Chasez, formerly of N Sync, and Britain’s Eg White (Adele, Duffy).
“When I started the process, I had a vision of what I wanted it to be, and it’s now completely different,” he says. “I went into it wanting a Justin Timberlake-meets-Michael Buble kind of feel, but what came out of it was something more raw.” With 10 eclectic tracks, which include collaborations with Elton John, Sting, and Gwyneth Paltrow, this album will definitely become one’s perfect soundtrack this season!
Matthew Morrison’s self-titled debut album is exclusively released under MCA Music Inc.