Will Downing - Chocolate Drops (2015)

Will Downing
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Decadent, delicious, succulent and the equivalent of a warm embrace that melts on the tongue: unless one is allergic, chocolate remains one of the world's most popular and addicting treats. Will Downing, like chocolate, has also been considered a must-have indulgence for jazz and soul lovers for the last couple of decades, so he's one of the few who can justify, and qualify, entitling his latest CD with the provocative and passion-inducing phrase, Chocolate Drops. 

Decadent, delicious, succulent and the equivalent of a warm embrace that melts on the tongue: unless one is allergic, chocolate remains one of the world's most popular and addicting treats. Will Downing, like chocolate, has also been considered a must-have indulgence for jazz and soul lovers for the last couple of decades, so he's one of the few who can justify, and qualify, entitling his latest CD with the provocative and passion-inducing phrase, Chocolate Drops. 

Singing a mixture of recognizable covers and newer 'Quiet Storm' (and beyond) numbers, Downing's silken baritione is, well, like molten sweet cocoa dripping down into the ear canal. "Never Say No" is a sultry finger-snapper, positing Will as a genie who can't wait to grant every wish ("I just wanna say your wants and your needs, they are my priorities/anything I can do to make you smile, for awhile"), and the outright upbeat opener, "This Song's For You," is the antidote meant to put pep in listeners’ step and make them forget about the slights and setbacks they've experienced throughout the day.

Ballads that fill the heart or soothe the soul are always in the mix on a Will Downing set, so highlight moments include the tear-stained "Til You Come Back," the giddy, dopamine-driven "It's Real" ("Can we set aside the time, to make it work....you are my whole world") and "Deep," a testament to a long-lasting, lived-in love affair. 

The classics that he revisits, including Atlantic Starr's "Let's Get Closer" and Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love For You," all receive the leisurely, delicate approach. 

But, as with all confections, taking in too much sweetness can leave behind a cloying aftertaste if there isn't a change-up or an attempt to add more substance. More crunch (read, 'percussion/beats') would've amplified the texture in Will's more optimistic tracks ("Run Away Fall In Love"), and the trio of covers, including the often-revisited "Does Your Mama Know About Me." However, since most folks know that chocolate is meant to be an occasional diversion and not a full-course meal, those minor annoyances shouldn't keep fans of this seasoned soul provider from treating this CD like a box of truffles----exploring each selection, savoring the favorites and leaving the rest for the next time that undeniable urge hits. Recommended. 

By Melody Charles

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