MGF Reviews Vanessa Williams – The Real Thing


Vanessa Williams – The Real Thing
Concord Records (6/2/09)
Jazz / Pop

This is Vanessa Williams’ eighth and latest studio album since 2005’s Everlasting Love, as she has been keeping busy with everything from her Emmy-nominated role on Ugly Betty to her Broadway performance of Kiss of the Spider Woman, and her various humanitarian interests.

The Real Thing is a return to her latin-jazz roots and her debut with both Concord Records and producer Keith Thomas. Williams handpicked the tracks (a collection of classics) for the album, mostly relationship-based from a woman’s perspective. Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds authored the two new tracks, “Loving You” and “Just Friends”, while other artists such as Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers contributed tunes like “The Real Thing” and “Hello Like Before”, respectively.

Sultry and passionate are two fitting words to describe this album and Vanessa’s sophisticated voice. Every song has something about it that will put you in a comfortable and relaxed mood, especially whilst in the company of that significant other (see album opener “Breathless”, or “Close to You” for perfect examples). Not to get too cheesy, but it’s one of those “romantic” albums that you could see yourself putting on during those special, intimate moments when harder, less civilized music just won’t do.

Over the past 20 years, she has earned 16 Grammy nominations, an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. Of the eleven tracks on The Real Thing, it’s a safe bet that she will garner a few more Grammy nods. Sure, the categories will fall under jazz instead of pop (Williams describes the material as “a hybrid of samba, bossa nova, some salsa and also some pop and R&B”), but some of us like our “adult vocals” a little on the “mature” side.

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