I think the title, Soul Survivor says it all. There have been many artists that have come and gone, but as they always say, “The cream rises to the top.” The cream not only rises, but in this case, it stays there.
Downing has brought a few friends along for the ride, including Najee, Avery*Sunshine, Maysa, and Phil Perry.
Those are some great guests, right?
Let’s jump right in to it!
Review – Will Downing Soul Survivor
The album opens up with an intro, the Soul Survivor Theme. It is a pretty funky beat, with a 90’s, almost New Jack Swing beat. This is a nice choice to get you going. I am willing to bet that this doubles as his show opener, as I can imagine the band performing that live.
Flipping the script on us, Downing hits us with an uptempo track.
I Just Wanna Say Thank You is a smoothed out uptempo jam, and Downing effortlessly skates through the vocals. It takes me back to the early 90’s house jams, like CeCe Peniston or Black Box. Make no mistake, even though it reminds me of that era, it is strictly current, and Downing reminds us that he can also do the uptempo jams.
Up next is the first single off the album, I’m Feeling The Love. This is a duet with Avery*Sunshine. If you have not heard Sunshine sing, she has some nice chops. Both Downing and Sunshine offer a great R&B performance here, and they play off each other nicely. The hook is infectious, especially the tail end of it where they sing “Feeling The Love Right, Feeling The Love Right.”
The old school flavor is represented by Since You’ve Been Gone. That bassline reminds me a little of an mid-tempo version of Denice Williams’ It’s Gonna Take A Miracle. There is a nice sax solo midway through, and it definitely completes the song. Here, Downing explains that “Since you have been gone, I can’t even sleep at night, I can’t get my mind right.” I know we all have been there.
Phil Perry joins the project on the track, Stop To Start. If it sounds familiar, it is a remake of the Blue Magic classic. Phil Perry is the perfect choice to swoop in with that falsetto. This updated version sounds impeccable.
Everything I Want In My Lady is up next. Maysa is featured on the track, and if you want to talk about two voices meshing, these are it. She only voices the pre-chorus parts, so her appearance, for me, is actually a tease. Can I get more Maysa please?! You can totally hear the Barry White influences on this track.
In Our Time, Downing exclaims, “This is our time, and you’re the love of my life, with you by my side, I know things will be alright.” That is the essence of a relationship. Musically, the piano, strings and guitar, especially the solo, are so smooth. This is a favorite track of mine.
Downing is known for his interpretations of the classics. Najee lends his sax to Hurry Up This Way Again. Man, I love this song! The original has the unmistakable falsetto lead. Downing gives us his familiar vocal styling, while Najee plays some of the vocal parts with his sax. I think they hit it out of the park with this one.
Downing breaks it all the way down with When We Make Love. This is one of those “baby making” songs. With lyrics like, “You’re like chocolate, and candy sweets, all the things I like to eat…” You know where he is going with that.
The album closes out with Tell Me All About It, the Michael Franks classic. It says a lot about Downing, where he can perform any song, and make it his own. I mean, who else can do the Stylistics and Michael Franks on the same album?
If you like Will Downing, you will definitely enjoy this latest effort. It has the Downing formula, original slow jams and mid tempo songs, and the hand picked remakes that will make you reminisce about the old days. For those of you that are new to Will Downing’s music, this is a great introduction.