Joe Remains Consistent on #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS
Adult Contemporary R&B singer-songwriter Joe remains consistent as ever on his 12th album, #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS
Joe hasn’t graced a major label in years. The R&B veteran has been on the indie-R&B scene since 2008 (Joe Thomas, New Man). Nonetheless, his indie-status hasn’t inhibited him from being prolific or experiencing a respectable level of success. The quality of his work has been on the upswing as of late with Doubleback: Evolution of R&B (2013) and Bridges (2014). His latest album #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS doesn’t buck the trend.
“Lean into It”
“Lean into It” kicks off the album superbly. Joe successfully balances grown-folks R&B and urban contemporary. As always, his vocal finesse is impressive. “Don’t Lock Me Out” contrasts the more relaxed opener. While there’s still a cool about the record, it is more intense and pop-oriented. All in all, it works. It is slickly produced and the background vocals in particular are on-point.
“So I Can Have You Back”
“Wear the Night” returns Joe to where his bread is buttered – adult contemporary R&B. It is intact with sensual guitar, not to mention buttery smooth backing vocals. Follow up “So I Can Have You Back” is even stronger, giving the album a surefire gem. Joe is devastated about losing his love, hoping that her new beau will mess up. It’s not so much he wants her to hurt, but he wants her back:
“I hope he makes the biggest mistake / the unforgivable that makes your heart break / I hope you tell him ‘sorry is just not enough’ / and it goes from good to bad, so I can have you back.”
“No Chance” maintains the utmost consistency, building upon the exceptionalness of “So I Can Have You Back.” Furthermore, it’s sort of the companion piece to the previous cut. Gucci Mane joins on the swagger-laden “Happy Hour,” where Joe is high off of her.
“Somebody better call me a cab / take me straight to rehab / you got me addicted / and I don’t wanna fix it // Happy hour / so intoxicated every time you smile / it’s like wine / happy hour…”
“Hollow” is a departure, embracing country music! It isn’t the crème de la crème – there are stronger moments – but “Hollow” is a respectable, surprising record. Does Joe have a career in country? Probably not, but he holds his own here. “Hurricane” returns to the urban contemporary sound. His vocals sound particularly clear here.
“Can’t Run From Love” ranks among the best produced records. The message is thoughtful, touting the power of true love. “Tough Guy” dabbles with dangers of pride in regards to a relationship. Essentially, the guy is unwilling to let go of his pride to apologize to his girl, potentially willing to let her go.
“Why / why you gotta be such a tough guy? / Inside / she’s probably feeling like she just died.”
The M.O. on “Lay You Down” is sex. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, Joe never crosses the line, keeping it classy.
It’s smooth sailing on “I Swear” which is contemporary in sound and chivalrous to the nth degree. Joe takes the time to flatter his love interest, trying to convince her he’s meant for her. “Love Centric” continues to elevate her, where he asserts, “I live for loving you.” “Love Centric” hearkens back to the past; 50s and 60s soul saves as the inspiration.
“Celebrate You” follows up with a quicker tempo, maintaining exuberance. The production work is incredibly clean, almost too clean. The results are respectable, but not groundbreaking.
Closing numbers “Our Anthem” and “Hello” serve as standouts. Both songs were released as pre-release singles. “Our Anthem” incorporates numerous anthems, including “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Additionally, it relies heavily on Otis Redding classic, “Try A Little Tenderness.” “Hello” is a cover of the Adele megahit. He doesn’t supplant the original, but Joe definitely holds his own.
All in all, #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS is another enjoyable album from Joe. He doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but he continues to flex his veteran musical muscles. For fans of adult contemporary R&B – grown-folks R&B – #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS is a welcome addition to the collection. The only rub – the hour album is a stretch these days. Cut the LP by a couple minutes, and it would’ve been even stronger.
Gems: “Lean into It,” “So I Can Have You Back,” “No Chance,” “Happy Hour,” “Our Anthem” & “Hello”