On September 15, 2008, Thomas told Billboard.com that he's "probably about 80 percent done" with his second solo record, tentatively titled Cradle Songs at the time. Thomas characterized the album as "the usual mish-mosh of styles, but hopefully just holding true to a bunch of good songs." with the article also mentioning that the record will nonetheless feature several tracks that "take a more global, rhythmic direction after working with South American and African percussionists." Thomas explained one such experiment:
We started off with the idea of doing a newer version of (Paul Simon's) The Rhythm of the Saints, and that kinda carried us a long way through. It gave us a whole new bed to work with, like 'How do I get my pop sensibility around this and work it into that?' It was a lot of fun. But you go through different phases when you're writing; it took a different turn, and I just followed it, too.
On February 25, 2009, it was announced via Fox News that the album's then-supposed title was Cradle Song. It was mentioned, in addition, that there "are at least four hot singles awaiting radio play including 'Her Diamonds' and 'Someday.'" On the same day, Thomas announced on his official website that he has been "back and forth to Los Angeles quite a bit, mixing the new record." However, he denied the album will be released in May, mentioning it "looks like it won't be coming until the last week of June or the first week of July."
On March 2, 2009, Clark Collis of Entertainment Weekly interviewed Thomas, where he confirmed he has since shelved his initial efforts to evoke The Rhythm of the Saints, and claimed the album is scheduled for a June 30 release. Having played half the forthcoming album to Entertainment Weekly, it was reported that many of the lyrics on Cradle Song center around troubled relationships, and three more song titles were revealed: "Meltdown" (described as "INXS-esque power pop" that stood out as "a possible first single"), "Fire on the Mountain" (an "epic, tribal drum-driven" track inspired by Dave Eggers' book "What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng") and the melancholic country-leaning "Getting Late" (suggested as the "set's likely closer" and what Thomas described as "a little ditty about death." in the vein of Tom Petty and Willie Nelson.) The proper magazine article added that "Someday" is a power ballad with a tinkling piano introduction reminiscent of 80's band Damn Yankees.
On March 4, 2009, Thomas clarified on the message board of his official web-site that the album's title will be one word: "cradlesong". He announced that the lead single for this album had been chosen and a director is being sought after for the video. Thomas also announced that, at the time, he had mixed eleven songs so far and had recorded a total of twenty-seven. He confirmed a total of twelve songs will make the final cut, but added "the first pressing will have an extra 3 on it as well" and "later in the year i'm going to try to find a way to release the others, but i'll keep popping them out here and there at shows."
On March 6, 2009, minute-long snippets of the tracks "Meltdown" and "Her Diamonds" were temporarily featured on the front page of his official site. Despite being removed from the website, they are presently being featured in a RateTheMusic survey.
On April 27, 2009 the first single "Her Diamonds" was released on iTunes. The song is about his wife Marisol and her longtime illness. This was followed by "Give Me the Meltdown" on June 9, "Someday" on June 16, and "Fire on the Mountain" on June 23. All four singles were released before the album's release date on June 30, 2009. "Someday" featured in promo spots for NBC's 2009 fall season of The Biggest Loser.
At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 73, based on 7 reviews, which indicates "generally positive reviews". The Billboard review said that "Thomas returns with a soaring collection of infectious pop songs that are destined for heavy rotation in 2009 and beyond". The Rolling Stone review said that "There is plenty of unexpected texture to keep your ears engaged". The Los Angeles Times review would say that "Thomas presides over a sleekly produced, constantly undulating mixture of sounds that seems designed to appeal to all of the people all of the time". The Allmusic review was also positive: "This dogged sense of purpose does result in a tighter, better record than Something to Be and even it's not a lot of fun, it's not meant to be: it's big music about big issues, even inflating personal issues to the universal". The Boston Globe review said that: "The Matchbox Twenty frontman's second solo album showcases all of his admirable middle-of-the-road gifts and offers a glimpse of the possibilities when he explores the more extreme edges". The New York Times review considered Cradlesong his second persistently polite, numbingly polished solo album".
A deluxe edition is available exclusively from Target stores in the US. Included is the original standard studio album, as well as a bonus DVD which includes interviews, plus a behind-the-scenes look at the album photo shoot and video shoot for "Her Diamonds". It can be purchased in said stores or online via Target's website.