In retrospect of looking back over the past twenty years, R&B Superstar JOE Thomas crosses BRIDGES. The crooner’s new Album clearly defines his new outlook on life’s relationships and where they have taken him. Why “BRIDGES”?
– “ We build them, cross them, burn them, then soon realize how much we need them” – JOE
“Relationships are Bridges and at some point in life we must take full responsibility for where we have allowed those relationships to take us. Most important, what relationships or BRIDGES are we building, crossing into or burning?”
The Album is described as therapeutic and open. “I must confess I’ve had my share of girls in my lifetime – honestly I’ve been on the wildest rides and maybe I should slow it down” are the opening lines of the Album’s introduction single – ‘LOVE & SEX’ PT. 2 which features the beautiful KELLY ROWLAND of Destiny’s Child and X-Factor fame. The single is widely and well received at Urban AC radio and video (directed by veteran director Bille Woodroof) with a strong reminiscence of the SOS Band days. Part one featured American Idol Fantasia and was featured on the singer’s 2013 Album release Double Back, (Evolution of R&B) which debuted #1 on the Billboard R&B charts and #6 on Billboard Top 200.
When asked why the choice of Kelly over Fantasia, the R&B singer is very adamant that there is and never was a choice per say or comparison in his mind between the two. “Both are equally talented and beautiful”. If I had to describe in keeping with the concept of BRIDGES, (think of it this way), every major bridge has different levels or entrances when going across them. Your choice depends on the direction your going in. Both Kelly and Fantasia were necessary because I needed to go into two different directions for this particular song.
I won’t call it a journey. That is for people to decide. I will say that it is heartfelt and relatable to past or present circumstances for any listener who embarks on BRIDGES. It is uplifting, fun and thought provoking. The biggest comment for those that I have played Bridges for is that one, you never feel like you have to skip over a particular song and that each song is enjoyable or as they say, “it reminds me of when I ….” That blank has been filled in some pretty amazing things.
Songs like “Sex Ain’t A Weapon” hits hard with its strong ¾ shuffle beat reminiscent of Marvin keeps you grooving on the subject matter for the woman who chooses to hold back or deprive her man lovin’ when she feels like playing the mute game of making it easy to turn off her desire or quench his thirst for sex. Joe charismatically states “A queen B should never hold back the Honey…not later but sooner girl you’ll hear the rumor that other fish been swimming around in your sea. That’s why You Can’t Use Sex As a Weapon”.
Then there’s the sure fire nostalgic Ballad entitled, If You Lose Her. I mean what would a JOE album be without one or several ballads (which he has not and never fails to deliver). The song makes JOE a spokesman for us guys to think about the consequence.
When Joe surveyed the landscape of modern R&B, the award-winning artist didn’t necessarily like much of what he saw. So with DoubleBack: The Evolution of R&B, the accomplished singer-songwriter-producer brings the music he loves back to its roots.
“I’m going back to that old school feel, back to the elegance and class of what R&B represented back in the day,” Joe explains of his tenth studio album. “You look at the pictures from that era and they represent something very stoic. They’re beautiful photos, beautiful moments, beautiful memories. I want to get back to the beginnings of it, the humbleness of it, the way it was before with real stars, real celebrities, real entertainers who actually wrote a lot of their music and performed it with great intensity and passion. That’s what the essence of The Evolution of R&B is all about.”
Classic R&B also told memorable stories, something Joe is keenly aware of. That’s why DoubleBack: The Evolution of R&B follows Joe through his search for true love.
Joe kicks his new LP off with the gorgeous “I’d Rather Have A Love.” Accented by soothing guitar, finger snaps and lush harmonizing, the song traces the evolution of a man who goes from woman to woman into a man who realizes the power, joy and value of finding a woman he loves.
As the album progresses, though, Joe takes a number of detours. On “Magic City,” for instance, he looks for love in all the wrong places. With the eyebrow-raising “Baby,” he details how he’s in love with two women at the same time.
Then there’s “Mary Jane,” a mid-tempo tune that serves as a metaphor for having someone that releases all the stress and pressure of life. Showing the duality of life, he details the other side of a relationship on “Walk Away,” where he deals with the haters in his realm.
Elsewhere, Joe finds his match on “Love And Sex,” an impassioned duet with Fantasia. Here, the two talented singers go back and forth about the wide range of emotions they’re feeling toward one another. “We’re going to town,” Joe says. “We’re emulating the feelings and the emotions of the difference between love and sex. It’s very classic and feels like something you’ve heard before. It has beautiful, touching lyrics and a beautiful story, too.”
Beyond the rich storylines and dynamic storytelling, what makes DoubleBack: The Evolution of R&B remarkable is that Joe played all the instruments on the tracks he produced. In addition to having a more intimate relationship with the music, Joe decided to play his own bass, drums, guitar, and piano to show other artists how live instrumentation brings an extra element to music.
“I think it’s important the younger generation sees more of that,” he explains. “They rely too much on just mechanical things, like synthesizers, beat machines. Picking up and using an instrument can change the whole mood of everything. Anytime I play around the house or on stage, it’s a completely different vibe, a different zone that I’m in. It’s really nice to expand yourself if you’re an artist, to branch out and be more than just a singer and a dancer.”