R&B singer-songwriter and seven-time Grammy nominee Joe is back with “Bridges,” his 11th album in 21 years.
Featuring the Kelly Rowland-assisted lead single “Love & Sex Pt. 2,” the 16-track opus, released on June 24, features the 40-year-old crooner tapping into the complexities surrounding relationships and sharing his outlook on overcoming personal challenges.
During a recent interview with The Huffington Post, Joe opened up on recording “Bridges” and shared his thoughts on how the continuum of black music has influenced his career.
Last year you presented fans with the evolution of R&B on “DoubleBack,” and now you’re delving into the various stages that coincide within relationships. What inspired you to craft the title into “Bridges”?
“Bridges” pretty much sums up the songs on the album. It’s about relationships. And that’s what I been able to do throughout my career, is to build relationships. Instead of burning them, I’d rather build … I just got out of one situation, and then got into a completely new one the following year. It’s amazing how things turn around.
In comparison to “Love & Sex Pt. 1,” how has the song developed into the latest version featuring Kelly Rowland?
This one is a mid-tempo record, and it kind of takes it to a different energy when it comes to her audience as well, which is a little bit younger than mine. So it kind of jumps into that arena a little bit. And plus, Kelly’s representing right now. She certainly stepped up.
What led to the creation of the Marvin Gaye-esque track “Sex Ain’t A Weapon”?
It’s a pretty cool record. Just conceptually, it’s about trying to hold [sex] back. And basically my point of view is like, you can’t do that with me. [Laughs] It’s not necessarily how I live, but that’s just being fly. Being a man on the record, so to speak. It’s a fun record. I call it my “Great Gatsby of R&B Records.” So you’re going to see a few videos that coincide with those records to kind of bring the picture out.
As we conclude Black Music Month, how much has the culture influenced your career?
Man, I tell ya, it’s been pretty powerful for me. That was pretty much the majority of music that I listened to growing up as a kid. Coming from gospel and then falling in love with R&B. It’s pretty much in the same lane, musically. So it’s definitely evolving. It’s going to another level in a way, that I don’t want to throw under the bus, but kind of following what’s going on in the scene right now. And I think if there was more originality, and using live instruments and creating with that, I think you get a lot of different things happening with R&B. And people are afraid to sort of stand out and keep it what it is. But there’s some guys doing it, it’s cool and fun. But I think the essence of it needs to certainly come back. And I believe that’s live instrumentations and writing and talking about love and certain things they used to talk about in the past.
Joe’s new album “Bridges” is available in stores and digital retailers.