by: Carl Thomas

After four years off, R&B singer Carl Thomas returned with “Don’t Kiss Me,” a stupendous and nostalgic single that suggested his iffy days were over. The album it lands on is, in true Thomas fashion, a mixed bag, with an epic yet ultimately empty title track that stately suggests “conquering” women is what the man does best. That fever-pitch bedroom talk is better left to R. Kelly and the like, as Thomas is best with either the slow burn (the love-drunk “It Ain’t Fair”) or the flirty dirty talk (“Round 2,” a pillow fight night metaphor with “Look what we did to the bedroom baby” being its unashamed high point). Compared to his previous efforts, Conquer is more aware of these strengths than any release since his debut, and when it takes winning musical risks like the complicated “Long Distance Love Affair,” that mythical, classic Thomas album seems almost within reach. Material-starved fans craving his rich, warm, and velvety delivery should ignore all these minor complaints and plunder at will. ~ David Jeffries

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