Not every man can serenade a woman, unless, of course, he’s got the smooth delivery of Carl Thomas. Somehow, one of the Windy City’s best kept secrets and the former Bad Boy premier balladeer managed to broach delicate affairs of the hearts through lyrical precision (Remember how much we loved “I Wish”?) that not only endeared him to more than 2 million loyalists worldwide – his 2001 debut, “Emotional,” certified platinum – but captured the raw essence of organic rhythm & blues.
Now, Thomas’ fourth effort, “Conquer,” on Verve Records and in stores today, is a diverse anthology of melodic and mid-tempo grooves and heartfelt lyrics. The LP promises to resuscitate a genre that has nearly flatlined in the wake of a saturation of techno dance music and hip-hop sing-a-longs that will never replace the purest – nor purists – of R&B.
BlackAmericaWeb.com caught up with the silky smooth crooner – today’s In Studio Jam artist – to discuss love and war, coping with a family tragedy and why he’ll always be a Bad Boy at heart.
BLACKAMERICAWEB.COM: Welcome back. You’ve been sorely missed! There’s so much love in your new album. Do you expect your fans to be sprung?
CARL THOMAS: I’m sure when they hear it, they’ll hear the [delivery] I’ve always been known for. (Laughs.) I was coming at [the album] from my own [perspective], but that angle was just about love. I am saying allow love to do what it’s supposed to do. And in my music, I’m encouraging people to not fight where they don’t need to fight.
Hey, love is a battlefield! How do you combat love and protect your heart?
I’ve realized from my own life experience. In relationships, I’ve realized that I’ve caused myself more detriment than I have anything else when I haven’t been able to relax in love. Sometimes you do have to fight for love, but sometimes you have to let love fight for you.
Preach! What is your philosophical strategy when creating an album?
I’m concerned with the whole idea of it all serving as a soundtrack to people’s lives.
Musically, “Conquer” is a slight departure from the production of your previous projects. Was the song selection process grueling?
It’s a really special record. (Laughs.) I can be a bit of a pain in making albums; especially when you’re partnered with the label, it’s respectful to take everyone’s opinion into account. At the end of the day, I’m the one who really knows what’s going to work, so sometimes [the process] can be very painful. Some people might be able to detach themselves, but I can’t detach me from myself.
However, there was a time that you detached yourself from your music following your brother’s 2004 murder. How did you cope?
It threw a monkey wrench into everything, and I had to all of a sudden stop dealing with promoting my album. There was no way to go through the process of grieving and focusing on my music, and what was once important to my life switched. So, I needed to step back and away from the music and learn how to love it again, and I found out how to do that by getting back in the studio with Mike City in LA. We had so much fun, I can’t even remember when we recorded a record. Once again, I realized my career in music has a lot to do with my purpose in life. So, I’m glad to be back.
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