Picks and Pans Review: And Then...

updated 02/02/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/02/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

Joe

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"It's about time that I show that I'm not your average Joe," sings this soul star (full name: Joe Thomas) on the slow-grinder "More and More," the first single off his fifth disc. But the secret to Joe's success since his 1993 debut, Everything, has been his appeal as an R&B Everyman. This solid if unspectacular set, a ballad-heavy collection about love and lust, is no exception. With a delivery as smooth as his bald pate, Joe comes across as an ordinary earnest guy who just happens to be a platinum-selling artist. The singer makes like R. Kelly, who wrote and produced two tracks, on sexed-up cuts such as "Bedroom" and "Jeep." Elsewhere he goes for street cred, with mixed results, on the midtempo hip-hoppers "Ride Wit U" (featuring 50 Cent with his G Unit posse) and the cheesy "Street Dreams," which reworks the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" ("Street dreams are made of these/600 Benzes and SUVs") with a little help from 2Pac's "All Eyez on Me" and Linda Clifford's "Never Gonna Stop." But Joe is at his best when he tones down the testosterone and the thuggishness on the tender "Another Used to Be," which reveals the same sweet side he showed on his 2000 hit "I Wanna Know."

R&B

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