Personnel: John Willis (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, gut-string guitar, dobro); Bryan Sutton (acoustic guitar, gut-string guitar, dobro, banjo, mandolin); Viktor Krauss (upright bass); Steve Brewster (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Kyle Lehning.
Recording information: Deep Diner Studio, New York, NY; Sound Stage Studio, Nashville, TN; Steve's House, Sherman Oaks, CA; The Compound, Nashville, TN.
Photographer: Angela Talley.
Returning to secular pop music after an extended sojourn in Christian and Christmas music, B.J. Thomas teams up with producer Kyle Lehning for The Living Room Sessions. The title indicates that this 2013 album is an intimate affair and it is, finding Thomas revisiting many of his hits, often in the company of a duet partner. Although Isaac Slade of the Fray joins Thomas for "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," the guests aren't current hitmakers, they're largely peers and colleagues of Thomas', so they fit well with him, with Vince Gill naturally harmonizing on "I Just Can't Help Believing," Keb' Mo' providing some grit on "Most of All," Richard Marx easing into "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song," and Lyle Lovett providing a counterpoint on "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head." Despite the preponderance of guests -- Steve Tyrell, Etta Britt, and Sara Niemietz also appear, leaving just a third of the album to B.J. himself -- this amiable acoustic album is a showcase for Thomas, who hasn't seemed to lose much vocally, and remains an engaging, friendly presence on record. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine