Another Joe release distributed by the Sony-owned RED, Bridges sees the R&B stalwart move to Plaid Takeover, a venture of his co-executive producer, Gerald Isaac. Two highlights from his previous album, 2011's Doubleback: Evolution of R&B, were "Love & Sex," a duet with Fantasia, and "Mary Jane," a relaxed original. Here, the former gets a superior sequel on which Kelly Rowland is featured. The latter receives some remix treatment involving an interpolation of the like-titled Rick James hit, plus a negligible opening verse from 50 Cent. While Bridges verges on pastiche and nearly outstays its welcome at 16 songs in 60-plus minutes, its vibrant nature is undeniable. Joe is engaging from beginning to end without sounding as if he's trying particularly hard, and he gets a tremendous amount of help from Derek "DOA" Allen, who produced all but two of the songs. Overall, this is more finely detailed than the majority of adult contemporary R&B, and there's a little more rhythmic bite through some deft dancefloor-aimed material. "Future Teller" and "First Lady" are elegant disco-soul numbers with demonstrative nods to Philly, strongly reminiscent of R. Kelly's nostalgic hits. (Also, catch the escalating riff in "First Lady" that cleverly mirrors Instant Funk's "I Got My Mind Made Up.") "Take It to the House" is somewhere between Shalamar's "Make That Move" and Kool & the Gang's "Ladies Night," similarly free spirited as well. The level of sonic sophistication makes Joe's occasional 40-is-the-new-20 bachelorhood lyrics go down easy. Tracks that aren't Allen collaborations are very different and equally solid. "Dilemma" is a bittersweet and bumping track driven by Vic Zapata and Taj Jackson, and "Till the Rope Gives Way" is a finessed retro move produced by Element. It all adds up to one of the singer, songwriter, and producer's best albums.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman