VANESSA WILLIAMS: The Real Thing (Label: Concord)

  • Home
  • Reviews
  • VANESSA WILLIAMS: The Real Thing (Label: Concord)

The still-lovely Vanessa Williams debuted (musically) back in 1988 and though she’s continued to make quality music, her career since has tended to focus on acting on the big and little screens. Indeed in the sleeve notes the one-time Miss America complains that the reason she’s taken so long to complete this new LP is that her producers keep switching her job from Los Angeles to New York and back again… what a drag! It’s tough at the top and Vanessa’s high-flying, luxurious, cosseted world is reflected throughout this album. The art work and packaging is as glossy and glamorous as the glossiest fashion mag, the producers, writers and musicians are all A list and the music is as airbrushed and blemish-free as the cover photo. That’s not to say it’s a bad album – far from it! There’s lots here to enjoy … at the right time, in the right place and with the right people. Highlights include ‘Hello Like Before’ (arguably Bill Withers’ best-song), Stevie’s ‘The Real Thing’ (here give the Sergio Mendes treatment) and the Latin bubble-bath that is Bebel Gilberto’s ‘Close To You’. Of the original material Rex Rideout’s ‘Breathless’ holds its own in the above, august, company while Babyface offers two goodies – ‘Loving You’ and ‘Just Friends’ – that are – well -typically polished Babyface affairs. What this album lacks is a little passion. It’s the kind of LP that, say, Patti Austin or Anita Baker would do so much better. Those ladies would be prepared to take the odd chance, but Vanessa wants it all to be perfect … and it is.
(BB) 3/5