B.J. Thomas, a true American institution whose iconic pop, country and gospel hits defined their respective generations and now transcend them, has found a unique way to celebrate an incredible half a century in music and some 47 years since his first gold selling hit on Scepter Records: an album of stripped down, intimate acoustic re-imaginings of 12 of his most renowned songs. With special guest artists Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, Keb’ Mo’, Isaac Slade of The Fray, Richard Marx, Steve Tyrell, and more, joining him on his most memorable songs, Thomas releases “The Living Room Sessions” this Spring (release date TBA) on Wrinkled Records.
The singer, a five-time Grammy and two-time Dove Award winner who has sold more than 70 million records and is ranked in Billboard’s Top 50 most played artists over the past 50 years, invites longtime fans and newcomers alike into his “living room” for never-heard-before arrangements of his legendary classics. The Living Room Sessions also includes four solo performances by Thomas: the opening track “Don’t Worry Baby” (a Beach Boys classic first covered by the singer in 1977), “Eyes of a New York Woman” (1968), “Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love” (a #1 country hit in 1983) and “Everybody’s Out of Town” (1970).
Says Sandy Knox, President/Owner of Wrinkled Records, Inc., “I don’t know if we can put into words how thrilled we are here at Wrinkled Records, to have the opportunity to work with such a musical icon like B.J. Thomas. All of the hit songs he has recorded are like grand pieces of musical history.” She adds, “It has been exciting for all of those who have been involved in this project, because B.J. has never done this type of album before in his legendary career.”
Working with famed veteran country music producer Kyle Lehning (Randy Travis, Willie Nelson) at Sound Stage Studio in Nashville, and backed by some of Music City’s finest sessions musicians, Thomas recorded many of these as duets from his “wish list” of guest artists from different genres including pop great Richard Marx (“(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song”), country legend Vince Gill (“I Just Can’t Help Believing”), bluesman Keb’ Mo’ (“Most of All”), Lyle Lovett (“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”), rocker Isaac Slade, lead singer of The Fray (“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”) and producer/songwriter/ contemporary standards singer Steve Tyrell (“Rock and Roll Lullaby”).
Says Thomas, “In the studio, everything was real simple and organic, and we didn’t labor on anything too long to get things right. Mostly, it was a lot of fun. There were some great, surprising moments as well, particularly the performance from Isaac Slade and the dynamic vocals by Keb’ Mo’. He is so much more than a blues musician. He originally wanted to do ‘Hooked On A Feeling,’ but I wanted to save that for Sara Niemietz, so we recorded ‘Most of All.’ He came in not knowing the song at all, but he sat down, learned it, internalized it and put in the work it took to make it magical.”
Thomas also vibes on The Living Room Sessions with label mate and renowned Nashville touring and session singer) Etta Britt (“New Looks From An Old Lover”) and 20-year-old Broadway and soundtrack phenom Sara Niemetz, who joins Thomas on “Hooked on a Feeling.” Niemetz first sang this classic—a Top Ten pop hit from 1968—with Thomas years earlier, when she was invited by the singer, at the age of four, to join him onstage for her first public performance ever.
The track listing for “The Living Room Sessions” is as follows:
1 Don’t Worry Baby
2 I Just Can’t Help Believing (with Vince Gill)
3 Most Of All (with Keb’ Mo’)
4 Eyes of a New York Woman
5 (Hey Won’t You Play)Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song (with Richard Marx)
6 I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (with Isaac Slade)
7 Rock and Roll Lullaby (with Steve Tyrell)
8 New Looks From an Old Lover (with Etta Britt)
9 Old Fashioned Love
10 Hooked On A Feeling (with Sara Niemietz)
11 Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head (with Lyle Lovett)
12 Everybody’s Out of Town
Adds Thomas, “The biggest blessing for me is that I never get tired of the songs I have had the privilege to share with the world. I still feel an emotional connection to them, and as they bring back great memories for me, they affect me the same way they might touch a longtime fan of my music. I never planned any of this out, so to be able to express myself in music and have that as a vehicle for my life for as long as I have is something I am always grateful for. There are so many thrills, satisfactions and great adventures I’ve had being involved in this for so many years, and I’m excited to have the opportunity with The Living Room Sessions to present some of my favorite songs in a different setting that feels just like home.”
Thomas’ Oscar winning “Raindrops” in “Spider-Man 2” in 2004, underscored the singer’s continued place as an identifiable cultural touchstone. In recent years—as he continues to perform 60-80 shows annually throughout the U.S. and internationally–everywhere from Australia and Hong Kong (last year) to Paris (this coming March 2013), with plans to tour this year with the release of “The Living Room Sessions” in the Spring.
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