'Driven'

May 1, 2018

Name: “Driven”

Artist: Michael J. Thomas

Release date: August 2017

Favorite track: “Girls Got Moves”

Michael J. Thomas is on the Seabreeze Jazz Festival lineup and just released “My Love,” the second single from “Driven,” so it’s the time to feature this record. Thomas is known in the Destin area as a talented saxophonist, but this album also debuts his vocals.

“Driven” is blend of modern and nostalgic music — perfect for those who can’t stop listening to Michael Jackson or Prince, but won’t turn the station when Justin Timberlake comes on the radio.

There was a seven-year gap between “Driven” and Thomas’ debut album “City Beat,” and you can tell how much crafting went into it. I love how you can groove to dance music and melt to smooth jazz on the same record.

The album is available for purchase on CD or vinyl at MichaelJThomas.net.

MUSIC

The first two songs lay out the two dimensions of this record, pop with funk flair and classic jazz. “Baby Coffee” — the first single Thomas released from “Driven” — is the latter. Although this funky track doesn’t feature vocals, the saxophone certainly sings.

I’m not sure where Thomas has been hiding his voice, because it sounds sweet and punchy in the opening track “My Love.” Michael Jackson fans should definitely give this song a listen, because the influence is transparent.

“In America, You Can Do It!”; “Make Me Crazy” and “You Know You Got This” have the same upbeat jazzy sound as “Baby Coffee.” They also leave out vocal accompaniment; going back and forth is an interesting dynamic on this record.

From its title to its sound, this record feels optimistic.

“Girls Got Moves” has a different flavor. Thomas’ singing returns on this dance-y, catchy track with sexy lyrics. While the vocals initially sound contrived, I look forward to hearing more.

Thomas has a naturally smooth sound. He gives a “Woo” at the two-minute, 10-second mark, and I felt the excitement. His voice will only get better.

“Get Your Smooth On” is definitely targeted toward classic jazz lovers, but it only slows down a little from the album’s upbeat tempo. The even-tempered tune feels natural in this spot on the record.

“Say Goodbye” is the slowest track, and it gives “Driven” an unexpected, but not unwelcome 1990s R&B twist. This song especially suits Thomas’ naturally gentle vocals. The song’s lyrics and general sound bring to mind some of my Stevie Wonder favorites.

The title track arrives near the record’s end, giving it an edgier finish. In terms of pop hits, this song is the most top 40 on the record. The genre again complements Thomas’ boyish vocals.

DESIGN

The album cover is shades of blue, playing up the blue hues in a photo of Thomas sitting on steps with a serious look on his face. In his suave suit and dress shoes, Thomas looks every bit the part of a burgeoning jazz musician.

It’s a sleek, professional design that fits the tone of the ambitious record.

 

 

Hey, I'm Savannah. I collect records, and they collect dust. Like my preferred media form, I strive to not become obsolete. I created Off the Record as a way to turn my mind inside out, into something visual and tangible. One is the loneliest number, so I asked my friends to join. 

 

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