Vocalist Will Downing has generally straddled the line between Jazz and R&B in his work, but his latest project, Lust, Love & Lies (An Audio Novel), released in the U.S. on Sept. 14, 2010, is a straight ahead, full-fledged R&B release, with touches of Jazz here and there. The result is a very nice mix of sensual mid-tempo tracks that fit together to tell a story. And Lust, Love & Lies isn't just a pretentious title: it's an accurate description. The album's 20 tracks tell a tale that unfolds like a movie - or better yet, like an urban soap opera - over the course of just under an hour.
A Breath of Fresh Air
Without giving away too much, Will Downing's Lust, Love & Lies
definitely lives up to its title. It's a series of songs that are connected by a plot that's advanced via between-song dialogue. The concept isn't new, but it's one that's so rarely used in R&B these days that it's like a breath of fresh air in comparison to all the albums that are built around one or two radio-friendly, ringtone-ready tracks. This is an album that can, and is meant, to be listened to all the way through and is a cohesive, consistent package, as opposed to being a collection of unrelated songs that were compiled using different producers, like so many of today's R&B albums are. The album's stage is set on the first single, "Glad I Met You Tonight,"
where the story's main character, Will Rollins (portrayed by Downing), meets a lady named Dee Washington (voiced by Dyana Williams).
Over the course of the album, the two experience the highs of being in a relationship (via songs like "Get to Know You" and "Consensual"). And along the journey, there's plenty of solid music to keep things moving, including a Gospel track called "Safe in His Arms," on which the lead vocalist surprisingly isn't Downing, but Dave Hollister. But as always with soap operas, things in the relationship become complicated, and a happy ending isn't guaranteed.
Overall, Lust, Love & Lies is a compelling listen from beginning to end, and Will's crossover from smooth Jazz to mainstream R&B is definitely a successful one, at least from a creative standpoint.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the record label. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy