Nate Williams - Got To Let Go (2014)

Nate Williams
natewilliamsgotto.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

For all of its brashness, bravado, flash and over-the-top excesses, to look back is to realize that 1980s music was surprisingly straightforward. Living through that artistic era wasn't always easy on the ears, but there was no mistaking the nimble, narrative feel of the lyrics, the emphasis on melody and the clarity heard in each particular style. Nate Williams may or may not have been there to experience that time period firsthand, but he certainly hearkens back to it on his latest CD, Got To Let Go. 

For all of its brashness, bravado, flash and over-the-top excesses, to look back is to realize that 1980s music was surprisingly straightforward. Living through that artistic era wasn't always easy on the ears, but there was no mistaking the nimble, narrative feel of the lyrics, the emphasis on melody and the clarity heard in each particular style. Nate Williams may or may not have been there to experience that time period firsthand, but he certainly hearkens back to it on his latest CD, Got To Let Go. 

13 tracks might seem like a tall order to listen to, but Got To Let Go retains an airy glide that keeps it all from dragging: heavy on the synthesizers and in touch with love's many facets, yet so glib in delivery that hearing them can recall skating rinks, sleepovers and middle-school crushes. That's not to say the songs are dated or even elementary-level simple, per se, but the grooves are the pleasantly uncomplicated kind that have, for the most part, seemed to have given way to the overtly sexual vibes dominating much of today's mainstream R&B. Williams' tenor manages to be both knowing and naive, well-suited for the retrofitted 80s feel of the tentative slow jam "Wait (You Did)" and mid-tempo "Best Friend," a lite-funk number where Nate acknowledges the joys of being close, but dislikes the thought of remaining in the 'friend zone': "I could never tell you about the way you make me feel/never want to hear you say that you will ever be the one I get to call my girlfriend, my girlfriend/but I know that you see me as the one you never want to call anything but your best friend, best friend...."

Pop and Paisley-Park-flavored funk are obviously influences on Nate's sound, as well as MJ's seminal Off The Wall, but for the most part, Nate blends a hearty dose of back-in-the-day into his repertoire with a modern glossy finish. It's hard to not head-nod or foot-tap with boisterously busy songs like "Don't Wanna Talk About It," "Infatuated" (which feels like a mash-up of Jonathan Butler's "One Born Every Minute" and Dino's "I Like It") and "Just For Tonight," one of the few undeniable 'get busy' numbers that can only be about one thing, yet sung endearingly enough that one feels romanced instead of flat-out ravaged. Even the tangy "Flatlined" sounds coy, although the tongue-in-cheek context could be stretched to fit any naughty scenario, horizontal or otherwise. 

Soulful, sincere, and versatile enough to manage multiple genres with ease (the irresistible "D.T.M.B.," featuring Vula, is around-the-way urban, for example, while the title track is unfiltered jazz), Nate Williams' Got To Let Go offers a refreshing reprieve from the carbon-copies saturating the airwaves. He will have to take care to not pigeon-hole himself as a throwback with future releases, but Nate's talents are outstanding enough to warrant patience from listeners as they continue to evolve. Recommended. 

By Melody Charles

 
Choice Cut - Maysa - "Lovin' You Is Easy"

Leave a comment!