Monday, June 22, 2009

Album Review: Vanessa Williams - The Real Thing (4 / 5)


I pulled a sickie today so I had chance to listen to the new Vanessa Williams album, The Real Thing. Without losing any credibility that I assume I acquire in the process, I've been really enjoying this album. Williams is best known these days as Wilhelmina Slater on the US sitcom, Ugly Betty--It's easy to forget (or avoid) the fact that she's a brilliant underrated singer.

I'm not a die-hard fan or a general fan for that matter (I'm actually only familiar with one song of hers; the elegant "Colors of the Wind," from the Pocahontas soundtrack) but I have previewed some of the stuff she's released over course of this decade and my verdict is: adult contemporary has never sounded better; she adds a certain appeal to your typical adult contemporary (and that's not a genre I tend to associate my self with, well if it doesn't have pop or R&B, I don't) and The Real Thing, is no different, indulging in smooth, lighthearted soul with some sightings of jazz--not as 70's R&B influenced its predecessor Everlasting Love.

"Breathless," is a silky, hard and soft guitar strung mid-tempo, setting a blissful and serene tone for the rest of the album. Swiftly following is, "Just Friends" which fairly more uptempo, backed nicely by a piano and a very eccentric composition. Showing probably the most jazzy presence is the title track, "The Real Thing" sounding very old fashioned, but works fairly well, considering the direction of the album. I love the horns and piano on here. It carries one of the more distinctive melodies on the album.

Taking a Nora Jones style production is, "Hello Like Before" except more backing itself widely with violin based orchestration, but the subtle vocal deem it more mellow. "I Fell In," has the best chorus on the album; probably the most contemporary sounding. "Loving You," and "Lazy Afternoon" follow consecutively and pretty much go in the same direction. Ironically their the two I'm not too fond of.

Everything else on here isn't anything noteworthy but gives a pretty productive listen. Honorable mention: The closing track, "Come on Strong" acquires a brilliant vocal performance from Williams. The Real Thing, is by no means anything ground breaking, but does make for a solid adult contemporary album, as it should be. I'm only 15 years old, but finding Williams, let alone the AC genre, appealing makes me feel freakin' 30.

Best: The Real Thing, Hello Like Before, Breathless, Just Friends, Come on Strong

3 comments:

ww_adh said...

It's nice to see her put out some music. She was huge in the early '90s. Her second album, The Comfort Zone, was really good and had a major #1 hit, "Save the Best for Last," that I was really into at the time. I also really like her duet with Brian McKnight, "Love Is."

J.Mensah said...

oh yeah! I completely forgot about, "STBFL" that was a brilliant song! I'm like the biggest McKnight fan and I haven't heard that duet :( i'm assuming its pretty old.

ww_adh said...

You should check it out. It's a really good song. It was a #1 hit at top 40 radio in 1993. Go find it on YouTube. I think you'll like it.