When I’m Weak, I’m Strong


Independent release, 2014


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Toronto-based Thomas has been releasing music as a solo artist steadily since his 2009 debut Self-Help. It has always seemed like none of his work has any serious reason to be released as an album; rather, it tends to be more like a bunch of songs that Thomas just grouped together and made available to be downloaded online. Along with the rest of his catalog, When I’m Weak, I’m Strong does lack the cohesiveness of a well thought out album. However, at the same time, much like the rest of his catalog, this album also is pretty fascinating. In fact, this is his best solo work to date.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This disc follows the same path as Thomas’ 2011 release Breath, with its musical style lead by a mix of electronic music, jazz, and ‘80s/’90s-style R&B. But unlike the shy and reluctant Thomas on Breath, he appears here to have come out of his cocoon, seeming a lot more open to having fun with his singing and music. The result is a playful and more naughty version of Breath, starting right off with its rather provocative, tongue-in-cheek album cover, which cannot be described in words without being offensive.

As far as the content behind the album cover, consider the track “Kissing,” which was released as a teaser a year before the album came out. Thomas sounds like a poor man’s Prince with his frisky falsetto singing, trying to add sexiness and soulfulness to the song. He might not have the same sexual appeal as Prince, but there is a certain naughty confidence in his voice that was definitely missing on the songs on Breath.

Thomas’ “female R&B singer” vocal performance has not been as self-assured on any of his previous work than it is on this album. It is hard to figure out whether he is dead serious or just having too much fun when he is doing his voice inflections, complete with utterances of “oohs and yea-yeas” as if he was some sexy soulstress like Shanice or Brandy when he sings about – as suggested by the titles themselves – “So Many Dreams” (about you) or being “Shy.” And the fact is, this self-produced collection of songs does have the topnotch production qualities of a big-name R&B album.

When I’m Weak, I’m Strong is a super-addictive album. Yes, it certainly feels as though Thomas didn’t have any genuine intentions of thoughtfully assembling an album with this release, as is usually the case with his work. Still, this disc is bloody amazing! Thomas always delivers. But this time, he has outdone himself.

Rating: A-

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