Carl Thomas to release So Much Better
Carl Thomas is a bona-fide R&B star; with sales totaling nearly 2 million from his previous two releases. His latest "So Much Better" is the return of one of this decade’s most classic soul singers. This album has hit music for the reemerging R&B soul market reminiscent of the golden days of Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke but with a modern twist.
Artist: Carl Thomas
Title: So Much Better
Release date: 06/5/07
Buy at: Amazon
Good examples are platinum selling artists John Legend and Musiq. “So Much Better” continues the legacy of his 2000 release “Emotional” which contained multi-format hits “I Wish” and “Summer Rain.” Now in “07” Carl is back under the tutelage of legendary music man Jheryl Busby and producer, friend, and the man responsible for “I Wish” and “You Ain’t Right” Mike City, whos credit include Brandy, Usher, Dave Hollister and many more. This latest release will continue to pull on the heart strings of Carl’s fan base in the urban mainstream and adult urban demographic. The lead single “2 Pieces” is already having success at radio as the #1 most added single at urban AC, with major markets such as NY, WDC, Chicago, and Music Choice are already on board. “So Much Better” features the likes of multi platinum producers and artists Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis w/Big Jim Wright, Brain Michael Cox, Brandy, Dave Hollister, Lalah Hathaway and Pitch Black to formulate this testimony to vintage classic soul music. Carl’s new album “So Much Better” will be marketed heavily in Carl's top 15 sales markets.The campaign is designed to take advantage of Carl's base and generate the repositioning of his brand in the fast growing R & B market place.
For a soul singer coming from the midwestern city of Chicago, there is grand heritage that already exists. From the gutbucket blues of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf to the buttery soul of Curtis Mayfield and Donny Hathaway, the musical metropolis has long been a foundation of genius. Yet, instead of being intimidated into submission, R&B sensation Carl Thomas has used his vocal and songwriting skills to scale the wailing walls of the city’s considerable rhythmic legacy.
While not much was known about the suave singer when he first signed to Bad Boy Records in 19(YR), Carl Thomas was without a doubt as cool as the winds blowing in his native city. Standing tall as a basketball player and always impeccably dressed, he brought an acute understanding of old soul to his new music. From the dazzling 2000 debut Emotional (released on former label Bad Boy Records) to his latest disc So Much Better, the talented singer/songwriter has proven himself as an artist in the truest sense of the word.
“My only real responsibility is to the music,” Carl confesses. “I’m aware that I have to uphold a certain tradition and integrity in the music, but I also have to stay sincere to myself. Believe, people who love soul music can feel when you’re not being real.” In the wrong hands, “realness” can become cliché of booty songs and artificial toughness, but one listen to Carl Thomas’ sexy singing and one realizes he isn’t having any of that.
“What comes from the heart reaches the heart,” Carl says poetically. “In other words, when I’m writing songs I try to capture scenarios that are true. There is a complexity to relationships that many songwriters miss that I try to relate; we all have a lot of drama in our lives and that is what I’m attempting to express on So Much Better.”
Opening the disc with the melodic hypnotic of “Something About You,” a laidback groove infused track that sways like a summer wind, it is obvious that Carl Thomas is back with a winner. Produced by Mike City, who has been one of Carl’s boys since his debut, “Something About You” is a blissful song of infatuation that sounds like nothing else currently blaring from the radio. Featuring vocals from Brandy, “Something About You” is a timeless song that embraces the best of pop and soul in a seamless song.
“My style has always been like a pot of gumbo,” Carl jokes. “From gospel and soul to Steely Dan and early ‘80s MTV music, it’s all a part of who I am.” Recording in Los Angeles, the former Bad Boy soul man was also pleased that Brandy was in the studio that same afternoon. Though the song should not be perceived as a duet in the traditional sense, Brandy’s sensual sound adds a layer of femininity to the song that enhances its beauty. “I’ve usually shied away from doing duets, because being an artist who performs live so much, I never wanted to have to depend on others. But, when Brandy got on this song, I just knew it was going to be amazing.”
Keeping it sweet, but with an edge of street, the first single “Another You” serves as an aural testimonial to the object of his desire. With mackadelic lyrics (“I’d much rather be all by myself if I couldn’t be with you”) that would make any sexy mama respond, Carl has no problem spreading charm like butter. “Before I give the audience something different, I needed to remind them why they loved me in the first place,” Carl says.
Although Carl Thomas’ masterwork Emotional was critical and sales success, life has not always been a simple path for the thirty-four-year old singer. After releasing the follow-up Lets Talk About It in 2004, tragedy struck home when Carl’s oldest brother was killed the same year. The youngest of five children, Carl remembers, “With the death of my brother Randy, I kind of lost my voice. I had found the truth in my brother, and now he was gone. After that, my feelings towards the world changed.”
Murdered randomly on Halloween night (2004) by gang members joy riding though the windy city, Carl’s brother was a respected correction officer and minister. Slumping into a depression that blocked him as a writer and performer, Carl says, “I knew that I had no control over the death of my brother, but I wanted to be able to at least control my own career. I love Bad Boy and Puffy, but it became more about how I want to be perceived as an artist. I didn’t know how long it would take for me to reemerge, but when it happened I wanted the situation to be different.”
Citing Mike City as the catalyst for his comeback, the producer proved himself to be a true friend when the singer needed one. Like a beacon of blazing light during Carl’s time of darkness, Thomas remembers, “Mike would call my mother, make sure was everything was going all right. I was really low, but he and I would have long conversations about music, about the things that we loved to listen to; he also encouraged me to go back into the studio if only for myself. I didn’t really trust many music industry people, but Mike was always like a surrogate brother.”
Emerging from his solitude over a year later, one of the first songs Carl Thomas recorded with was the slow dance smash “You Should Know,” produced by Pitch Black. Smooth as the best quiet storm romancer under the full moon light, “You Should Know” pairs Thomas with Chi-town soul sister Lelah Hathaway. Not merely the daughter of legend Donny Hathaway, she has also been known to throw down vocally on her own. “I’ve always admired Lelah’s skills on the microphone,” Carl says sincerely. “But, even more than that, she’s a really sweet person who knows how to work hard in the studio. Lelah Hathaway is somebody I admire a lot.”
Still stirring that simmering pot of gumbo that is his style, the proof of Carl’s diverse inspirations can be heard in the curry flavored reggae grooves he throws into the stew with the song “Oh! No.” Smiling broadly, Carl says, “Anybody who listens to this song can hear I have much love for the Wailers. For me, real reggae is beautiful. And, in my crazy mind I wanted a little of that to mix with a little of what I do.”
A crowning achievement for Carl Thomas was having the legendary duo Jam & Lewis support his project with a production. “I was one of those guys who always read the credits on my records,” Carl informs. “So, I’ve been a Jimmy Jamm and Terry Lewis fan since the ‘80s.” Entitled “Home,” the song is the perfect ode to life outside of the limelight. “Just to have the Jam & Lewis touch on my record was a blessing.”
While it is obvious that So Much Better has been the perfect remedy for helping to sooth the soul of Carl Thomas as he worked though much heartache and bullshit, it also stands proud as an artistic achievement. In the age of plastic soul, it’s very special hearing someone who can deliver musical emotions that are really real.
Written by Michael A. Gonzales
"So Much Better" by Carl Thomas - release date: 06/5/07..