Friday, 20 August 2010

Will Downing - Lust, Love & Lies (An Audio Novel) - 2010 - Peak

This is the best Will Downing set for many a year, and for those who love the man and all he does it's yet another quality release in a long, long list of releases that have not failed to please. In fact, it's fair to say that this album contains more spark, light, shade and grit than a fair few previous releases, and the feel, thanks to Rex Rideout and Chris "Big Dog" Davis almost harks back to his beefier Motown release back in 2000. It's smooth, yet strident and still romantic. Will is one of today's greatest performers and this album deserves to be HUGE. The set is different, containing spoken dialogue between the tracks and tells a story of a romantic liaison and all the trappings that come with it. Our Femme here is the sexy-voiced Dee (Dyana Williams) and the songs tell a story of the road of romance. So, calling this an audio novel is quite apt, and nothing that we as fans of this great man should shy away from.

With Carl carter on bass, Randy Bowland on guitar and Chris "Big Dog" Davis on keys, Will Downing flows as smooth as silk over this cool, beat-driven number, the bass guitar and dreamy keys taking centre stage also, and as far as opening tracks go this is as strong as anything that Will has delivered to date. The contemporary urban cut "Feelin' Alright" may be a bit of a surprise, but understand that this is not a dreadful teeny R&B effort...though the 'hey-hos' are a wee bit too reminiscent of the likes of Naughty By Nature and the like. Did I ever mention I rarely play stuff from the 90s?! LOL. This is not a bad track by any means BUT fails to scratch one of the standout cuts which is "Consensual". I was flabbergasted on hearing this song, and soon hit the replay button. Such a slinky, jazzy-tinged, sexy song...Downing reasserts himself as one of THE voices of our time and on tracks like this he has the power of soul, song, seduction and his timelessness sweeps aside the whiners and auto-tuned kiddies that harass our senses today.

If this track makes you swoon, then head straight to "Fly Higher" complete with dreamy keys and spacey synths, and Eric gale-ish guitar courtesy of Michael Rippoll. Soul music rarely gets classier than this. Or does it? Well, if it does, then Will Downing's the man to smash his own records. "Shades" makes mincemeat of most of today's mainly insipid soul sounds and begs the question of why many other labels and artists cannot step up to the mark and produce such quality music. If Will and Peak records can do this, then why not so anyone else? Please check out the mid 80s Philly sounding "Do You Know", which has a great piano line, guitar and sitar. This is totally delicious and has been on repeat play over and over again in this house. This continues with the sublime "At This Moment" which could easily have been released on PIR in 1986. This is almost 80s Gamble & Huff and I am waiting to hear either Shirley Jones or Phyllis Hyman to join in as a duet. "Coulda Been/Shoulda Been" owes more to quality 2010 and ends the album admirably. Fans of his earlier work will warm to this set and so will life-long fans. Some may only know the man from his critically acclaimed cover of "A Love Supreme" and it's to them I say open up your ears and listen to Will Downing 2010 stylee...the epitome of style, class, finesse and smooth soul. Totally essential.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe