Thursday, 5 February 2009

Carl Thomas - So Much Better - Umbrella/Thom Tunes

Velvet-voiced Carl Thomas was almost a superstar. As it is, he’s still rightly revered by soul and R&B fans alike and indeed this new album will do his cult status no harm at all. The LP also illustrates perfectly one of the big differences between UK and US attitudes to black music. Here, we might say that Carl has produced a mixed bag of an album – some mighty fine modern soul tunes rubbing shoulders with bumpy R&B grinders. Stateside, though, nobody would be bothered by that distinction. Our US cousins brand all music like this R&B and only make the distinction between good and bad. Here, there’s lots that good. Biggest immediate grabber is the steppers’ tune ‘Another You’ – great beats and the kind of thing that R. Kelly does so well. ‘2 Pieces’ is another good little chugger – tight and economical with tasty harmonies. ‘Something’’ Bout You’, which features Brandy, is another potential floor filler; it reminds me a lot of the old Koffee Brown things. Ballad-wise, ‘Thought You Should Know’ is superb and I’d have liked to have seen the Isley-ish interlude ‘Get You Back’ extended a bit. For the R&B brigade we mentioned up top there’s ‘Late Night Rendezvous’ and they might find some attraction in the cod-Police skank of ‘Oh No You Can’t Be Serious’ – I couldn’t – its quite dire. My other criticism would-be that the whole album’s far too long. There’s a long passage in the middle that’s filled with unremarkable ballads and, like me, you might find your focus waning. Still if you’re prepared to dig – there’s some great moments here.

Bill Buckley

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