After spending the last three years of his career traveling to towns big and small, meeting with and performing for people of all sorts, Carl Thomas has taken some profound social notes. “In the years since my last album, Emotional, there’s been a lot of serious things happening in the world and I don’t think people feel as safe as they once did,” the R&B singer postulates. “People have lost a sense of security. So what I’m trying to do is get back to the business of feel good music.” But by “feel good,” Carl means to strike people much deeper than merely on the surface; no, what the passionate crooner seeks to do this time with his new Bad Boy Records CD, Let’s Talk About It is massage souls. He believes that music, like the variety of sultry and surprisingly upbeat soul found on Let’s Talk About It, will serve to free folk from the weight of anxiety and tension they face.
Undoubtedly, many real Carl Thomas fans may find themselves doing just that, once they embrace the understanding passion of “Make It Alright” or the gentle, acoustic guitar glide of “Let Me Know.” Unlike the last go round, Carl has been able to put his production talent to work on Let’s Talk About It, the results are nothing short of magnetic. And his honesty as a songwriter who focuses on themes of love is transformative.
“We all have a higher and lower nature. And so I’m trying with this music to reflect my higher. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve only sat on one side of the fence.” This time there is such a personal effect from Carl’s songwriting and production that a few listens draw one in so close you feel as though you can reach out and touch him. Along with members of his newly founded production team Thom Tunes, (Elijah “Veto” Harris & Milton Thornton), Carl produced and co-wrote half of the CD including the sensual “Baby Maker” and “Dreamer,” a pretty self-reflection filled with poetry. I used to love to dream out loud/stand in the middle of an open crowd/ and everybody would see me/ but I was just a little project child? Let’s Talk About It also includes production by The Hit Men (P. Diddy, Mario “Yellow Man” Winans & Deric “D-Dot” Angeletti) and Mike City.
Until this song, it was hard to imagine Carl as the Chicago-born man-child destined to reshape R&B, but this kind of writing proves his depth and colorful vision. “These songs were the ones I just had to get off my chest,” Carl acknowledges. “And it was really very different to take complete responsibility of them. It wasn’t just about going into a booth. I had to nurture these.”
In fact, nurturing is second nature to Carl who now has a 4-year-old son. And it is this passionate relationship with his child, that has propelled his music to even greater heights. Carl has always been a thoughtful musician, yet fatherhood has sparked even deeper feelings, thoughts that have forced him to challenge the urban music status quo. “What’s wrong with talking about things that affect the world and how it connects to music? Nothing.” Carl affirms. “The way things are have little or nothing to do with the way things should be. As much as music can elevate, it can pervert. And to an extent, music has perverted the minds of our children. That’s something we have to admit. So, I say to myself, why not present another option?
Carl’s music adds a beautiful element to the Bad Boy roster and his creative marriage with producer and Bad Boy CEO Sean “Puffy” Combs is flourishing. In fact, that union is better than ever Carl says, and has added unique touches on the new CD that is sure to stir the senses of an even wider audience. Let’s Talk About It’s first single, the catchy, “She Is,” is one of Puffy’s productions and it’s a song one can’t help but move to. “I’m a lot more concerned about people dancing to my music than I was last time,” the once balladeer-only continues. “It’s the importance of the dance release, that’s really good for the soul.”
It is this kind of introspection Carl prides himself in. It’s what he believes sets him apart from the slew of contemporary R&B singers on the scene. “My belief system is a little different than a lot of men. I believe there is a Divine Universal Order and when you make decisions outside of this divine order, your humanity comes into question. I’m deeply concerned with fair play and I try to approach song writing in the same, balanced manner. How I feel about my place in life affects everything it directly affects my music. Yeah, at times I am a sentimental sap-sucker. I can’t help that. But many of the songs I write are not about me at the present time. Many of the songs are about the me I’m trying to be.”
And just who exactly is this new Carl Thomas trying to be? Carl is planted firmly in the tradition of the soulfulness you’ve come to know from him. The concept of Let’s Talk About It, is about becoming aware of how we react to different situations we are presented with in life, he affirms. “More than anything, this music is about learning from ourselves, touching our own souls, about being proactive and not being afraid to talk about it.”