Joe Thomas' place in late-2010s contemporary R&B is quite different than it was in 2000, when he released My Name Is Joe. His third album featured a primarily mellow Timbaland-meets-Babyface approach, reached number two on the Billboard 200, and went triple platinum. At some point during a string of seven full-lengths that went gold or Top Ten, Joe naturally settled into veteran everyman status, as a not-quite-star artist favored by dedicated followers of sophisticated, middle of the road R&B. His 12th proper album sports a title similar to the one that represents his commercial peak, optimized for social media, and in interviews he directly referenced his past triumph. While #MyNameIsJoeThomas has the appearance of a nostalgia trip, it isn't one. Recorded mostly with Derrick "D.O.A." Allen, Gerald Isaac, and Damo Farmer, it covers all his usual ground in inspired fashion, and like the earlier 2010s albums offers a diverse range of heartfelt, never oversold material. That said, "So I Can Have You Back" is convincingly in the red, among his rawest songs, where he tells a lost lover that he hopes her man breaks her heart. The stylistic diversions this time include "Our Anthem," an Otis Redding-referencing retro-soul belter, and "Hollow," an unmistakably contemporary country number produced by Nashville hitmaker Zach Crowell. In "Happy Hour," the album's lone guest Gucci Mane raps "Got me sad like when Joe said this was his last album." If this is truly it, Thomas figuratively and literally went out on a high note.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman