Carl Thomas

Let's Talk About It

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Fans have been waiting four long years to replace this smooth tenor's ballad-filled, pillow-talk debut from their bedroom nightstands. Not so fast; Let's Talk About It is a very different record from 2000's Emotional. It's more upbeat, slicker, and riskier. There are really two albums going on here: a moderate one that overcomes some workmanlike production with naughty and clever lyrics, and a meandering one that's warm, personal, and visionary. "Rebound" is aching and cliché-free, "Make It Alright" is inspired and infectious, and the smart and sexy "The Baby Maker" ("I just want to thank you girl for allowing me to be myself in this bedroom tonight") are tracks that give the singer more personality than Emotional ever did. The four "interludes" are unfinished songs that give the album some deepness. Malik Yusef's cerebral love poem that ends with a Fantastic Four reference makes "Know It's Alright" the best interlude, but the other three also have bits of Thomas' wandering spirit shining through. When he's loose, this is a great album. Too bad there are a couple of commonplace numbers that break up the album's excitement, the worst being "A Promise." Producer Stevie J. miscasts Thomas as Luther at his happiest on the track, but he gives him lifeless background singers and a faceless beat. P. Diddy is at the controls for "She Is," an average track that's more about LL Cool J than Thomas. Diddy also disrupts the intimate album with some Bad Boy Records announcements and the usual "sounds good/I like it." Thomas' strong voice and sexy slither make these run-of-the-mill moments worth listening to, although the album would have been better off if the singer had total control. But with 16 tracks and only a couple fluff ones, it's easy to whittle this album down to a tight, totally Thomas listen.

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