Joe - The Good, The Bad, And The Sexy

Joe
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He’s charismatic, chiseled from dark chocolate, has a voice that melts women into their stilettos (witness his swag in person and take your lady….if you dare) and is versatile enough to deliver cool club bangers and sexy soul songs with street cred and sex appeal. Joe Thomas, as a proven hit-making veteran with almost two decades of steady success (“All The Things {Your Man Won’t Do},” “I Wanna Know,” “Stutter,” “What If A Woman,” etc.), is in an enviable position as a performer and has a loyal fan base; so it’s baffling that the singer, songwriter and producer opted to employ the visions of others and take the path of least risk and resistance on his ninth studio CD, The Good, The Bad and the Sexy.

He’s charismatic, chiseled from dark chocolate, has a voice that melts women into their stilettos (witness his swag in person and take your lady….if you dare) and is versatile enough to deliver cool club bangers and sexy soul songs with street cred and sex appeal. Joe Thomas, as a proven hit-making veteran with almost two decades of steady success (“All The Things {Your Man Won’t Do},” “I Wanna Know,” “Stutter,” “What If A Woman,” etc.), is in an enviable position as a performer and has a loyal fan base; so it’s baffling that the singer, songwriter and producer opted to employ the visions of others and take the path of least risk and resistance on his ninth studio CD, The Good, The Bad and the Sexy.

Fans of the sanctified-turned-secular entertainer are going to hear a lot of what they’ve come to expect from the man, including moments that speak to the imperfections of relationships: “Losing” is an edgy up-tempo about the wisdom of being alone versus the inevitable pain of a toxic union (“how can I love someone who / who only breaks me into a million pieces / what do I do / put it back together, but without you”), and “Circles” posits Joe as a man sitting on the sidelines and hoping to leave second-string for the top player title to win a lady’s affections. “Impossible” is Joe revealing his vulnerability as he pleads for respect, and what could’ve been a tired pimpin’ playa-by-numbers groove, “Time of Your Life,” actually sparkles with as he smoothly steps to a lady and offers more than a fresh drink (even as he does brag about his ability to pay for multiple "poppin’ bottles") and eventual carnal release.

It doesn’t take much to realize that Joe shines brightest, or is at least the most comfortable, when he’s in Mack-mode (a quick glance at the titles demonstrates the emphasis on seduction, the act and the aftermath): “Slow Kisses” promises that he can be as sweet as he is sexy, telling his woman that cuddling her is just as fulfilling as the act itself (“Tonight I’m gonna lay you on the bed, and we ain’t even about to have sex/just lay your head down on my chest, sometimes the simple things are the best”), but the single “Pull My Hair” is its demonstrates a passion-filled play-by-play of how his latest conquest unfolded, from the steamy words at the bar to the pain-and-pleasure culmination afterwards. “Tonight” even finds the singer in Keith Sweat territory, practically begging and pleading for sexual healing like a man who’s been celibate for decades (“When are you coming over, girl I need it bad…..hurry up and come over, just tell me what I gotta do to get you here so we can make love.”).

So, if his vocals are the Good and the lyrics are the Sexy, what’s Bad? The capable, yet ho-hum production, his inability to expand the topics and his veering off of Mature and Masterful Road to merge in with the Treys and Ushers to ride in on Trite and Trendy Expressway: is a club the only place he can meet a woman these days, seriously (“Lose Control”)? And if he’s really putting in work under the sheets, what’s with all the alcohol references? Occasional sipping can enhance, but an amateurish preoccupation of liquoring up “for a better performance” (this is an actual lyric folks) while over-the-top porn-worthy moaning looms in the background is immature and illness-inducing ("Drink Up").

Nothing is wrong with incorporating modern touches into an established sound, but when an artist eschews originality for a younger market and puts his well-oiled machine in the hands of others, it shortchanges everyone involved. Think of Joe's latest as a glass of water, something that momentarily quenches the thirst, but isn’t particularly full of flavor or memorable afterwards. Moderately Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 
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