Will Downing – The Song Garden
Rich, resplendent and brimming with romance: for over two decades, the music of Will Downing has embodied all the above. Whether he is riffing over a syncopated soul groove or pouring that buttery baritone over whispery jazz, few artists have delivered his level of quality and cool. 2020 was a difficult year for everyone and, with stressors running amuck, many relationships fractured in the process. That’s why fans will be so elated with his latest release, The Song Garden: pandemic aside, love and levity can still be found…especially with such a talented tour guide to show us the way.
Part of the magic Will creates is bringing freshness to the familiar templates that our human experiences represent, keeping the messages on the path of optimism and uplift. “So Many Good Die Young,” his latest single, is the closest he gets to melancholy, with tender strings and keys undergirding his reflections on those who are gone yet never forgotten. “Say Yes” is his invitation to embark on a different life journey, a couple’s walk down the aisle (“I’ll be by your side through all kinds of weather, whatever happens, we gon’ be together/Me do you wrong, I can clearly say ‘never,’ if you say yes it’s forever and ever”), and he’s downright playful on “Chocolate,” a spoken ode to the delectable dessert. And if chocolate’s not your bag Baby, guess what else he’s offering? You already know.
No matter what the mood is, Downing brings his expected eloquence: “Stand Up” is a shot of courage for dealing with a cruel world, “Right Where You Are” is a spicy jam and “Love You Better” is a midtempo pledge to ride or die. Literally. And if his silky pipes aren’t enough to enjoy, Will duets with the magnificent Maysa on the percolating “Give You” (“Came here all alone, caught your pheromone/ and when you looked my way, I felt a chemistry that took my breath away.”).
Closeness and intimacy during a time of distance, social and spatial: if any album has the power to help us achieve that, it’s the smooth and scintillating tiller of The Song Garden (with the instantly recognizable touches of long-time Downing collaborator, Randy Bowland). The music is the soil, the lyrics are the seeds and Will Downing’s vocals offer the H2O…anyone who listens can’t help but to enjoy what blooms. Highly Recommended.
By Melody Charles