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Soul Express Album of the Month

December 1997

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Invitation Only
(US Mercury CD, 1997)
1) Island 2) All about You 3) Angel 4) I Don't Want to Lose You 5) Eternal Love 6) These Things 7) If She Knew 8) Personal 9) If I Could 10) Come to Me 11) When Sunny Gets Blue 12) Before We Say Goodbye

We have now had 6 albums from Will Downing, and the man returns with a MONSTER album crammed from start to finish with no-holes-barred quality soul music tinged with jazz that is completely without parallel. Although there are those who continuously knock the man's output, all I can say is that Will Downing knows what he does best, and he simply keeps on doing just that. Make no mistake - this an unmissable album.
The list of musicians and guest vocalists are a whose-who in the world of both soul and jazz: Ronnie Foster, Marcus Miller, Luis Conte, Darl Simmons, Jonathan Butler, James "D-Train" Williams, Gerald Albright, The Yellowjackets, Audrey Wheeler...need I go on? The quality is not compromised from the lush arrangements and quality vocals at all.
The first track, Island, is a real ear-catcher, tropical and tender, enriched with live percussion and real instrumentalisation. Just superb! All About You is a contemporary soul number through and through, leading nicely into the gorgeous swayer, Angel.
As usual, Will partakes in a cover version or two, the first of which is his cover of The Spinners' classic I Don't Want To Lose You. Here, he is departing from the style of Thom Bell in favour of a fully orchestrated jazzy backdrop.. The other, When Sunny Gets Blue is truly mature, lazy and luxurious throughout.
This is such a good album that no amount of words can applaud it enough. All I can say is that it is truly sophisticated, without a doubt, and appeals to those with an ear for timeless quality and longevity.

-Barry Towler

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