When a remixed version of "Apologize" found its way onto Timbaland Presents Shock Value in early 2007, OneRepublic were faced with an odd predicament -- the group had a number one pop hit without an accompanying album. Dreaming Out Loud corrected that problem, delivering a marketable brand of piano-led pop/rock that combined the melodicism of the Fray with the vocal acrobatics of Maroon 5's Adam Levine. It's a testament to the band's appeal that "Apologize" sounds better in its original setting than in the Timbaland remix, a fact that owes as much to the musicianship itself as frontman Ryan Tedder's own experience as a producer. He was one of the industry's hottest commodities in 2007, co-writing material for Hilary Duff, Ashley Tisdale, and Natasha Bedingfield while producing tracks for Jennifer Lopez and American Idol runner-up Blake Lewis. Tedder also saved some material for OneRepublic's debut, and his band wound up eclipsing many of his past clients in popularity.
Tedder kept working with other artists during the following years, penning hit songs like "Bleeding Love" and "Halo" in the process. Dreaming Out Loud had its own share of hits, too -- "Apologize" enjoyed a healthy residence on the charts, as did "Stop and Stare" -- but the album still sounded derivative, almost as if it were mimicking the popular trends that Tedder helped create with his production gigs. "All We Are" was particularly Fray-like, with Tedder wailing a radio-ready melody over layers of piano and swelling guitar, while the ghost of Coldplay loomed large on other tracks. None of this made Dreaming Out Loud a bad album, particularly, but it did make it an unoriginal one, and Tedder continued to fare better whenever he was writing for groups other than his own. ~ Andrew Leahey