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Will Downing: Black Pearls

Reviewed by Heikki Suosalo

Rating: 8/ 10

Soul Express CD of the Season - November 2016

US Shanachie CD, 2016
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1) Everything I Miss At Home
2) Don't Ask My Neighbors
3) Your Smile
4) Get Here
5) Street Life
6) Everlasting Love
7) Black Butterly
8) Nights Over Egypt
9) Meet Me On The Moon
10) Don't Let It Go To Your Head

  Will Downing alias “The Prince of Sophisticated Soul” has released Black Pearls (, 5832), a collection of ten songs made famous by soulful ladies.  Initially Will thought of covering his favourite Phyllis Hyman song, Meet Me on the Moon, but soon the idea grew from one song into a whole album, or – as Will writes in the notes – “thanks to my musical inspirations: Jean Carn, Randy Crawford, Phyllis Hyman, Chaka Khan, the Emotions, Deniece Williams, Angela Winbush, Brenda Russell, Oleta Adams, Cherelle & the Jones Girls.

  Basic tracks by a live rhythm section are sweetened by authentic horns and either New York or Chicago Strings, and all these familiar songs are cleverly arranged to suit Will’s style.  There are two mid-tempo (Nights over Egypt and Don’t Let It Go to Your Head) and one uptempo number (Street Life), and the rest seven are atmospheric slow songs.  Personal favourites include Get Here and Black Butterfly

Black Pearls is another high-class CD from Will, and in describing his music again I have to use such adjectives as elegant, smooth and intimate (  

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