Miami keyboardist and songwriter Timmy Thomas is one of disco’s secret godfathers and one of the first soul artists to make innovative use of drum machines on record. The majority of Why Can’t We Live Together features Thomas alone at his keyboard, aided only by the ghostly mechanical accompaniment of the Maestro Rhythm Master. This minimal aesthetic gives Thomas a great deal of liberty to improvise, and his wild, oddly percussive keyboard technique provides a slippery, syncopated counterpoint to the Maestro’s rigid percussion patterns, all supported by his exceptional songwriting. Why Can’t We Live Together is full of brooding, downtempo blues numbers that Thomas uses as vehicles to explore themes of loneliness and alienation. “Cold Cold People” plays like a desolate reimagining of The O’Jays’ epochal “Backstabbers” while the slow-burning title track expresses despair at racial divides. Thomas’ debut, with its odd sound and impassioned performances, is an understated masterpiece and stands as one of the strangest and most remarkable soul records ever released.