Vanessa Williams - The Real Thing

2009-07-09 09:29
The Real Thing
Sounds fab, but what's the real flavour of her 9th album? How about "Strawberry Swirl"? Just when the vanilla soul gets a little bland, the jazz and Latin hues make it interesting again.

The Real Thing is an album with old school roots. The title track was written by Stevie Wonder and was a song her father used to play 'in the good old days'. "Hello Like Before" is a cover of a Bill Withers song. If nothing else the album will remind you of Sunday afternoons and listening to music carried on the breeze from a house nearby. At best it will spur you to actually go and dig out that Bill Withers album that's been buried in the storeoom so that you can reaquaint yourself with golden oldies like "Lovely Day", "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Just The Two Of Us".

Good news is that while Williams relies on the songs of her past to supply something old, then those ballads written by Babyface bring something new to the album. "Loving You" channels classy jazz diva Nina Simone and "Just Friends" ups the tempo making it a catchy ballad Kenneth Edmond style.

If you're looking for some bold emotional soul baring here, you'll probably be disappointed. The most passionate and feeling the songstress gets is in the closer "If There Were No Song", which speaks to the importance of music in her life - turns out her parents were music teachers - and in ours.

You can expect to kick back with Vanessa Williams but there ain't no kick if you were expecting one. This album is for those rare romantic souls looking to relax after a stressful day, or for the young with old souls. You'll love it if you grew up on sophisticated soul and jazz standards. Otherwise it's best enjoyed as music to cruise to...perhaps on a ship to Durbs, in the car on a Sunday, or maybe even as a soundtrack to pushing a trolley around a supermarket after work.

It's been over two decades since songbird Vanessa Williams broke into the urban contemporary scene with her debut album The Right Stuff. After successfuly making the transition to Hollywood actress and Walk of Famer, she's back serenading us with what she calls a sophisticated 'potpourri of breezy Latin rhythms, sultry Jazz standards and dreamy pop sketches'.

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