Carl Thomas’ fans have been anxiously awaiting his fourth CD Conquer. Especially those who fell madly in love with his debut CD Emotional. Hopefully they have given him the space to change and grow because it has been four years since his last album (11 since Emotional) and Conquer is different. While there is something to be said for remaining recognizable to your core audience, there is also something to be said for the artist who is brave enough to take a risk and not “reheat” what he’s done before.
The tracks on Conquer are contemporary, meaning they have the sound of a lot of music currently out now but this CD is not another beat-heavy, bass driven, so-called R&B album. Instead the songs are mature and have more of a pop feel. Especially the tracks “The Night Is Yours,” “It’s Not The Same”, “Running”, which also has an inspirational slant in its message (“Run the race to win. Win the race to live.”), and the title track “Conquer”. The song is reminiscent of Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” in its execution and it would be interesting to see if pop stations or Thomas’ fans will embrace or reject the song due to the fact that Carl Thomas is a R&B singer. There is one song that fits into the current R&B landscape; the track “Round 2″. The sound is hypnotic, but the lyrics disappoint because there are so many songs on the radio right now centered around a sexual rendezvous.
But, those who buy Conquer to hear Carl Thomas, the R&B singer, will be happy with songs like “It Ain’t Fair”, “Long Distance Love Affair” and “Don’t Kiss Me”. “Long Distance Love Affair” has that old school, hip-hop flavor on the track and “Don’t Kiss Me” is a throwback to classic soul records. Both lend themselves perfectly to Thomas’ soulful voice. “It Is What Is” is a bittersweet tune about caring for someone who belongs to someone else and seems like the grown up version of “I Wish” (his #1 single from Emotional). Where as with “I Wish” he desired the lady and fantasized about being with her despite the reality of her situation, with “It Is What It Is”, he has no more fantasies about their relationship and the reality of it lets him see it clearly. It is what it is… instead of what he wishes it was. “You know, you know, that you’re still his for real though. As much as I wish things weren’t so different… it is what it is.” The song is also bittersweet because it was written by the late Heavy D.
Perhaps what will really satisfy the Carl Thomas fan is “Sweet Love”. Sweet love is… sweet. It’s also very reminiscient of a ’90s, “Jodeciesque”, slow jam. Conquer is a mature album and most of all Carl Thomas brings a clear and strong vocal performance. Hopefully, he’s back to stay for a while.
Favorite tracks, “Sweet Love”, “It Is What It Is”, “Running”
From the press release:
“I am back,” declares celebrated and respected R&B singer Carl Thomas. “Do you know why?” he asks almost rhetorically. His confidence and smooth, hood yet high-post eloquence betray even the thought of you offering any possible guesses. You know he is ready with the answer. “I am back because this game will tell the truth on you. If you are meant for it, it won’t allow you to stray away for too long,” he says.
Download Conquer on iTunes