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Carl Thomas: ‘Conquer’ Album Track-by-Track Preview

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Carl Thomas has never had a No. 1 record. The Chicago crooner has come close though, with each of his previous three solo albums — 2000′s ‘Emotional,’ 2004′s ‘Let’s Talk About It’ and 2007′s ‘So Much Better’ — clenching the No. 2 spot on the Billboard R&B chart. Now, this is where things get a bit ironic. On his fourth and latest album, aptly titled ‘Conquer,’ Thomas has mixed up a 10-track R&B recipe that has every bit of potential to do just what the title suggests — conquer the charts, once and for all.

Thomas is more experimental with the music on this album and it serves up a new, ineffable energy to his usual, slow-singing style. Thomas dealt with some personal deaths before setting out to make ‘Conquer,’ and instead of moping about it on the record, he resurrects himself with newfound pop finesse on many songs. ‘Conquer’ drops everywhere on Dec. 6. Check out The BoomBox’s track-by-track preview of the effort below.

1. ‘The Night Is Yours’
The opening riff of the album immediately suggests Thomas is taking a new approach with ‘Conquer.’ The track begins with a wailing electric guitar that adds a rock ‘n’ roll feel to Thomas’ usual R&B tendencies. His voice mirrors the change as he croons less and sings more in an upbeat, pop-inspired bravado that recalls the hollow-y whispers of Seal.

2. ‘Long Distance Love Affair’
On track two, Thomas questions the old saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder.’ Uncertain, he wonders, “Could you still love me with your heart, if your hands couldn’t touch me?” The song maintains a similar pop aesthetic, thanks to a steady drum beat, and hints of reggae chirp in and out throughout. However, something is missing on the production side, perhaps even purposefully to channel the emptiness and paranoia that goes hand in hand with being apart from a loved one.

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3. ‘Conquer’
Thomas’ weapon of choice in his quest to “conquer”? Answer: Love, of course. “Let love rule,” he sings on the title track. Thomas lures his prey on this one with the soothing, reverb-heavy chorus — “Girl, I will conquer you” — but the refrain overpowers his own voice and message at times. The end result is still positive, with the track serving as an anthemic trance that gets him what he wants.

4. ‘Round 2′
One of the stand-out tracks on ‘Conquer,’ ‘Round 2′ is one you’ll want to hear on repeat. Thomas paints a vivid story with lyrics of late-night drinking that doesn’t end well. He croons for another chance after piecing together his memories of a fight with his lady. On the refrains, his voice cascades into different auto-tuned falsettos that create tranquil walls of sound that are only interrupted by a shimmery raindrop beat.

5. ‘It’s Not the Same’
Like the album opener, ‘It’s Not the Same’ chimes with similar pop zest. Horns blow and hands clap along to the beat in the background. Overall, the track has more of an adult contemporary vibe. This song, like others, has a heavy theme attached to it — how people change and grow apart during a relationship — but Thomas manages to lighten up the content by way of the bouncy beat.

6. ‘Don’t Kiss Me’
A little bit of the old Thomas creeps back in on this Motown-tinged track. He slows things down, singing at a Smokey Robinson tempo and the languid delivery helps draw it out into the longest track on the album, clocking in at five-and-a-half minutes. ‘Don’t Kiss Me,’ the bonus version, features Snoop Dogg and serves as the album’s first single — see below.

Listen to Carl Thomas’ ‘Don’t Kiss Me’

7. ‘It Is What It Is’
No surprise on this one. One of the sleepiest tracks on the album, ‘It Is What It Is’ finds Thomas singing in barely a whisper about a friend he wishes he could apply the “friends with benefits” rule to. He resists temptation, but his sexy singing hints that maybe he at least made it to first base.

8.’It Ain’t Fair’
Another highlight of the album, ‘It Ain’t Fair’ is a healthy helping of old-school R&B and has Thomas painting a picture of his perfect woman. He gushes about all the things that make his special lady, well, special — ‘She’s so perfect, flawless, gorgeous …” — as the ending theme, albeit reworked, from the recent ‘Seven Samurai’ remake chimes in the background.

9. ‘Sweet Love’
What would an R&B album be without lyrics like “making sweet love to you girl over and over again,” as Thomas croons on this slow jam. As the nights get darker and colder, this ballad is the one you want playing as you cozy up by the fireplace next to your loved one. Clothing is optional.

10. ‘Runnin’
More serious than the other tracks, Thomas becomes a motivational speaker on this one. The song picks up where R. Kelly‘s 1996 megahit ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ left off, but on a more serious and personal note.

11. ‘Don’t Kiss Me’ feat. Snoop Dogg (Bonus Track)
The Doggfather is no stranger to R&B — ‘Sensual Seduction,’ hello! — but he is the only guest on Thomas’ album. If you’re wondering what these two Gs have in common, Snoop explains it in his guest rap spot: “Tried to be so faithful/ Used to be so playful/ Now I got my cane out/ About to pull my game out/ Staying at my main house/ Crazy how we came out/ Me & him we down because we both walking that same route …” Playas.

Watch ‘Interview With Snoop Dogg’

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