WILL EASLEY: Smokin’ (Label: CDS Records)

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Will Easley is a veteran soul journeyman who operates in an around Montgomery, Alabama but this decent old school ten tracker has been issued by CDS Records who operate out of Carlsbad, California. Despite that, the music is most definitely “southern” and it has all the charm and nuances of that genre. Will has a great, world-weary soul voice with elements of Johnnie Taylor, Dennis Edwards, Tyrone Davis and Bobby Bland about it and it’s at its best on the ballads – the best being the smouldering ‘Whatever’, which comes complete with a short opening monologue- cheesy to some, I know, but here, it fits perfectly. It’s a lovely old-fashioned, uncomplicated tune with some very pleasant harmony on the chorus. ‘Faith’ is another big ballad – but here (as you’ve probably guessed) the song has a gospel message – believe and all will be well. Easley’s testifying vocal almost had me there! The up-tempo material is a little more lightweight but Will does his best working with the programmed backing tracks. What’s nice about some of up-tempo stuff is the singer’s sense of humour -as on ‘Wiggle When She Walk’. It’s all about a bar room temptress who “wiggled when she walked but lied when she talked!” Will even bemoans wasting his money on her – “I bought all the drinks that night- even though they were half price!”Our man offers more sound, home-spun romantic advice on the fairly obvious ‘Big Girls Ain’t Moody’. What’s good about this album is that you know what you’re getting; there’s nothing here that’s pretentious or clever. It’s simple, old fashioned Southern soul and it’s good to know that it’s still being made.
(BB) 3/5