WILL DOWNING; Soul Survivor (Shanachie)


This lovely, new Will Downing album was heralded by the single ‘I’m Feeling The Love’. The cut, which is a duet with the seemingly omnipresent Avery Sunshine, entranced both DJs and soul commentators, many earmarking the tune as one of the year’s best. If you don’t know it, now’s the time to rectify the situation. The two voices meld perfectly, there’s a delicious hook and it’s one of those special songs that impress with the first play.

The good news is that there’s plenty more soul excellence throughout ‘Soul Survivor’s’ remaining nine tracks. Let’s start with the other cuts that feature “name” guests. First up there’s ‘Everything I Want In My Lady’ which is a collaboration with the ever-lovely Maysa. The pair have worked together before, of course, and those special voices make a snug fit on a gentle mid-tempo groove. Ditto, the other vocal collaborator – Phil Perry. Mr P joins Will on new version of Blue Magic’s ‘Stop To Start’ … a song that sounds tailor made for their two distinctive voices. The album boasts another Philly cover – ‘Hurry Up This Way Again’. On this new treatment of the Regina Belle/Stylistics tune Downing is joined by smooth sax man Najee and with that combination you can probably guess the sound…yep, very sweet, very smooth and very soulful.

Amongst other highlights are the sweet and simple ‘Our Time’ (proof if ever it was needed that WD is THE “Prince Of Soul”) and another contender for a 2017 track of the year, the ‘Secret Garden’-styled ‘When We Make Love’ , the bossa-flavoured cover of Michael Franks’ ‘Tell Me About It’ and the finger-clickingly good ‘Since You Been Gone’.

Will Downing’s come a long way since ‘Love Supreme’ (this album’s opener, ‘Soul Survivor Theme’ name checks many of his achievements) and it would be easy for him to rest on his laurels, but now some 30 years on from ‘Love Supreme’ he’s created one of his best, most complete albums.

(BB) 4/5