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 Woodruff) 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 album’s new single, 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). On the thought-provoking ballad “If You Lose Her,” Joe cautions men about neglecting or taking a good woman for granted. “If you lose her, there’ll be a hole in your soul… no grave deep enough to bury the pain.” Other noteworthy songs include the anthem “First Lady,” the party-driven “Take It to the House” and another soul-stirring ballad, “The Rope Gives Way.”
Manager/partner Isaac views BRIDGES as a way to connect Joe with a wider audience. “Joe is one of the few artists left who can step into any genre,” says Isaac. “Already mainstream R&B and urban AC staples, Joe’s hits are still played on top 40 and rhythmic stations. Listening to BRIDGES, people will hear that Joe’s music isn’t a hard bridge to cross.”
A self-described “country boy” born in South Georgia and raised in Alabama, Joe often accompanied his traveling evangelist father on the road. Growing up, he also learned to play the guitar and piano while developing his vocal skills in church. Joe’s dream of attending Dillard University in New Orleans to study business and law took a backseat when he opted to relocate to New Jersey in pursuit of a musical career. After notching his first R&B top 10 for Mercury Records in 1993 with “I’m in Luv,” Joe began hitting his stride in the mid-‘90s with the R&B and pop crossover smash “All the Things (Your Man Won’t Do).”
An ensuing string of hits—“All That I Am,” “I Wanna Know,” “No One Comes Close”—sealed Joe’s reputation in the 2000s as an R&B superstar. And the seven-time Grammy nominee’s memorable collaborations with Mariah Carey (“Thank God I Found You”), Big Pun (“Still Not a Player”) and G-Unit (“Wanna Get to Know You”) further underscored his musical versatility.
Joe’s flexibility offstage extends beyond cooking to sports (“I’m very competitive when it comes to basketball, bowling and shooting pool”). He’d love to return to school and get his degree. But right now, it’s all about connecting with BRIDGES.
“I’d love to be remembered in the same league as a Marvin Gaye,” says Joe. “And I’ve got time. That’s the beauty of R&B. It’s a classy genre — and class always lasts.”