“This collection of songs is deeply personal for me, but I also believe this record will be very relatable for our audience,” says Thomas. “This record covers a lot of ground musically, from straightforward country to rock to bluegrass, but I think it maintains a continuity throughout that I have not yet achieved with prior releases. The band and our guest musicians really did some excellent work on this record, and Tres, Joe, and I have really learned how to work well together in the studio. I can’t wait to get this one out there and play a bunch of shows in support of it!”
Thomas grew up listening to a wide array of artists such as John Prine, Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard, Bruce Springsteen, Otis Redding, Delbert McClinton, and others, but he admits he is inspired and influenced by all types of music, as long as the songs feel heartfelt and honest. One listen to Thomas’ music demonstrates the importance of authenticity in his art. Thomas’ raw vocals coupled with his genuine writing style give his songs a nostalgic feel that listeners cannot help but connect with. Mix that carefully crafted lyricism with real-life stories, and fans both old and new are sure to find that the music resonates on a deep level.
For Diamonds, Thomas was joined by many of the same musicians who contributed to his previous releases, including Donald Bright on electric guitar, Mark Huhta on pedal steel, Dave Colella on drums and percussion, Michael Sharp on keys, Weston Woodford provided harmony vocals, and Tres Sasser played bass in addition to producing the record. Other guest musicians included Tania Elizabeth on fiddle and harmony vocals, and Micah Hulscher on keys.
The title track, which was also the first single, is a poignant tribute to his father; it was released in June 2022. Thomas explained, “I wrote this song several years ago after my father lost his job of nearly 35 years. He temporarily lost his identity and his sense of purpose. It was difficult watching him go through this, but it was inspiring how he refocused himself and recalibrated his life during that period.” Several of the album’s tracks focus on similar topics. “Over the last couple of years many people have had their lives turned upside down by forces beyond their control,” Thomas says. “Many have lost jobs, careers, homes, family members, and more.” The song premiered at Amplify Music Magazine, who called it “[a] stunner of a tune… if this song is any indication, the album will be a fantastic listen.”
A total of five singles have been or will be released before the album street date. The second single, “Breaking the Distance,” was released in July 2022. A track premiere at Glide Magazine earlier that week dubbed the song a “soaring Americana rocker… sure to appeal to fans of Jason Isbell as well as the more country-leaning work of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty.” Following that, the third single, “Bricks, Boards and Stone,” was released in October 2022, and a premiere several days prior at Wide Open Country praised the song, writing, “Singer-songwriter Mike Thomas explores the true meaning of home – and the pain of leaving one you’ve built.” Single number four, “Room on the Dance Floor,” came out in April 2023, and Americana Highways found much to love about the track in its premiere earlier that week, calling the song “a fresh breath of country rock air.” The fifth single, “Tryin’ Ain’t Enough,” is set for release on June 23, 2023.
Growing up in Knoxville, TN, Thomas’ musical journey has taken a unique path. He moved to Nashville in 2004 intent on pursuing a career as a songwriter but quickly grew discouraged and set music aside for an extended period. He remembers one meeting with an industry executive that was instrumental in his decision to ultimately “put his dreams on the shelf,” as he sings in the track, “Before We Say Goodnight,” from Diamonds. After floating an EP around town, he decided to take a hiatus from writing and performing after that pivotal meeting. Over the next several years, Thomas did not write or pursue music at all. He settled down, started a family, and had a full-time job before founding his own small business in 2013. His passion for music did not disappear, and he would frequently play guitar and sing for family and friends.
Thomas’ chance to get back into music came in 2017, when he was contacted out of the blue by a production company/booking agency that handled bookings for several venues in the Nashville area. They had found some of his music online and thought he would be a great fit for some of their venues. “Aside from the occasional writer’s night or charity function, I had not played with a band or released any new music in over 10 years,” Thomas recalls. His longtime friend, Donald Bright, joined him for that first show, and, shortly thereafter, The Mike Thomas Band was formed. Since then, Thomas and the band have been building a following by playing clubs and festivals in and around the Nashville area and regionally. “That first gig reignited a fire in me,” Thomas says. “I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed playing live music in front of a crowd.”
Around the same time, Thomas met Sasser, who convinced Thomas to head into the studio to begin work on an album. The result was Thomas’ 2020 release, Three Reasons, his first ever studio LP, produced by Sasser. The self-released album amassed 400,000 streams on Spotify and had several tracks featured on Americana/roots radio stations across the globe. Thomas signed with Electric 3 Records and released Three Reasons – Deluxe Edition in April 2021, which featured three previously unreleased tracks with special guest appearances by country and bluegrass artist Alecia Nugent, Grammy-nominated fiddle player Tania Elizabeth (Avett Brothers), and Southern rock icon Dan Baird, frontman of the legendary band The Georgia Satellites. The deluxe version spent two weeks as the #1 added album on the NACC Radio Chart and came very close to cracking the top 100 of the AMA chart despite an extremely modest radio budget.
Thomas plans to tour in support of Diamonds, and fans are encouraged to check his website and social media for dates. He has already confirmed an album release show on July 22, 2023 at Fox & Locke in Lieper’s Fork, TN.