Music to inspire hope for our time from Michael J Thomas

Special to Gannett
Only Love by Michael J Thomas

DESTIN — There is something beautiful about artists whose insight into the human condition and world affairs allows them to create works that truly meet the moment, help us transcend our anxieties and capture our hopes for a brighter, kinder and more compassionate world.

Michael J Thomas’ soaring soprano driven power ballad “Only Love” is more than simply the latest infectious single from the saxophonist’s popular EP Stream’n Love. Originally co-written and recorded by vocalist Jordan Smith, it is an essential anthem for our time — a heartfelt yet empowering musical message that offers a way forward from the dark times, fears and challenges of 2020 into a brighter day. Thomas’ belief in the lyrics that “Only love can save us now/Keep the world from burning down ... Only love can look inside the human heart/And see us for who we are …” inspired him to take the extraordinary step of releasing “Only Love” as a dual single that includes both an instrumental version and a vocal version showcasing the multi-talented musician’s equally soulful talents as a singer. 

Thomas, who became an instant contemporary urban jazz sensation when his single “Baby Coffee” stayed at #1 on the Billboard National Smooth Jazz Airplay and Smooth Jazz Songs charts in 2017/2018, has been on a momentous roll this past year and a half. “I’ll Never Love Again,” his explosive re-imagining of the Lady Gaga hit from “A Star is Born,” became his second #1 Billboard smash, dominating the smooth jazz airwaves throughout 2019. Thomas’ cleverly titled, silky light funk follow-up single “Sippin’ The Yak” hit #2 on the charts, remained in the Top 5 for nine weeks, and rounded out 2020 on Billboard’s Year-End Smooth Jazz Songs chart at #5.

Like those tracks, “Only Love” was produced by Trammell Starks, Carl Griffin, and Thomas. It features keys, synths, strings, and percussion by Starks (who also did the string arrangements), in addition to Chris Blackwell on guitars, Sam Sims’ on bass, and Louis K Newsom on drums, with backing vocals by Chantae Cann.

“While we originally recorded it before the events of 2020 unfolded, it’s definitely more relevant than ever now, not only because of concerns related to the pandemic but our political climate where so many people are at odds with each other,” Thomas says. “It’s about digging deeper down into our hearts, being kind and having respect for people and letting that be our guiding purpose so that love may prevail. We’re releasing it in time for Valentine’s Day, but as much as I love a good romantic love song, only the true spirit of universal love can save us.”