BWW CD Review: Marty Thomas SLOW DANCING WITH A BOY Is The Prom Date Everyone Needs
There are those artists who have talent that they put to good use entertaining the public. There are artists who have an idea, and, upon marrying that idea with their talent, they create something significant. With his album SLOW DANCING WITH A BOY, Marty Thomas (a man with numerous accomplishments) achieves the most significant work of his life, to this point. Don't think Thomas won't follow this effort up with something equally fantastic because, with Slow Dancing With a Boy, Marty Thomas has turned a corner in his artistic trajectory. This marvel of a male vocalist, known for his power-singing, parties, divas, and glitter, has taken his broken heart and made it into art, and in doing so he has touched the hearts and lives of many men, women, and non-binary people who have felt as he has. Marty Thomas has become an actor-activist, using his art to speak for those with no platform, to share stories of solidarity, and to create unity. After this CD, Marty Thomas can never go back. He has joined the ranks of artists like Sting and Barbra Streisand who use their art and visibility to educate and illuminate.
And they are lucky to have him.
Slow Dancing With A Boy was born, as the liner notes explain, out of the heartache and heartbreak that a closeted, evangelical gay boy felt during his teenage years, years when he wished he could ask a boy to a school dance, but never did. Not only was it not accepted in those days, it was not safe. After recently reading an online article about two boys who went to prom together, complete with photos of the happy couple, Thomas found himself remembering his own prom experience and, from those memories was born a CD - one of the most musically and emotionally entertaining CDs this writer has ever listened to.
Only Marty Thomas would dare to take on Mariah, Celine, Robyn, Madonna, Pat Benatar, Vanessa Williams, and Barbra Streisand (ok, so she didn't originally sing Somewhere, but hers is probably the most famous vocalist recording). It's possible that Thomas paused before making the decision to record these famous divas' famous songs but he had no choice: in order to tell this story authentically, Thomas had to revisit the songs that kids danced to at proms, and what prom (of a certain period in time) didn't include "Crazy For You" and "Save The Best For Last" in the DJ's setlist? Not many. Fortunately for Mr. Thomas, he has Jamey Ray working with him as producer, arranger, and musical director. These two men are a true dream team, clearly in sync with one another. Undoubtedly, Ray understands all the parts of Thomas and arranges the music for maximum Marty exposure, allowing the singer to go to the vocal places of epic proportion that fans expect of Thomas, but also giving him the rooms of nuance an artist must visit when telling so personal a story through the lyrics and music of other writers. This is an easy journey for the listener to take, but a complex one for the artist, and Mr. Ray cares for Thomas in a manner so personal and so deep as to appear an older brother, clearing the path and protecting Marty from anything that might get in the way of his storytelling, and all of it is accomplished to breathtaking effect.
No part of Marty's performance is false. He is a raw nerve, vulnerable and exposed, and that is why he has never sounded vocally better, never been more of an actor, never been so great a storyteller, providing an exceptional listen that includes the MOST original version of "Dream Lover" ever recorded (if you're going to sing Mariah Carey, dammit, do it your own way) and a "Show Me Heaven" that starts out like a pop ballad and escalates into a gospel number that is appropriate, given Thomas' background - but this song isn't about god and the church, it is about the grace that comes from living in the light, and Thomas & co. make sure that that is patently understandable as the message in the performance. The entire CD, while ballad-heavy, makes the heart beat faster, but then this musical journey is rather like a beating heart, especially because of a medley titled "Dancing On My Own All By Myself" that is a quietly touching epic creation from Ray and Thomas and one of the highlights of the album, the other being the peaceful, pleading anthem that is "We Belong" (this writer's favorite cut from the album).
Slow Dancing With A Boy is no mere record of songs that a singer wanted to sing - it is a statement about being who you are and being proud of who you are, past, present and future; and part of Marty Thomas is being known as one of the most fashionable men and natty dressers in the business. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the packaging of this CD is some of the best ever created. With photography by The Gingerbr3ad Men and Michael Hull Photo, and package design by Robbie Rozelle, this CD booklet is easily one of the chicest, most elegant, and most authentic displays of artistry ever created. If this were the old days of buying vinyl, this is an album cover you would hang on your wall as a work of art.
So make like you were in high school, pin the album cover on your wall, grab your favorite boy, girl, or non-binary sweetheart and get to slow dancing with Marty Thomas. It's the perfect way to spend the day, any day, not just date night.
Marty Thomas Slow Dancing With a Boy is a 2019 release on the Broadway Records label. It is available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube Music, and the websites for Broadway Records HERE and Marty Thomas HERE