R&B crooner Will Downing gives fans an EP of covers with this latest release on Sophisticated Soul Records, Romantique, Pt. 1. No stranger to covers, as all of his albums usually feature one cover with his signature sound, Romantique, Pt. 1 finds Downing paying homage to baritone singers. Opening with his interoperation of Lou Rawls, “You’ll Never Find Another Love like Mine,” Downing’s version has a Chicago stepper’s feel to it, without losing the smooth flow of the original Gamble & Huff production.
Track 2 finds Downing in a duet with the impeccably talented Avery Sunshine to recreate Dionne Warwick’s “Déjà Vu.” The song was written by the legendary Isaac Hayes and was originally a solo performance for Warwick. Downing steps into the role of Isaac Hayes with Sunshine portraying Warwick, and the two create a great duet that showcases both of their talents.
Downing then does a modernized remake of one of his classics, 1997’s “If She Knew” from his Invitation Only album. Striping down the original track to an acoustic version gives the song a new flavor that gives Downing the chance to shine and show off his vocal chops.
Downing pays homage to Isaac Hayes once again with his version of Hayes’ “Never Can Say Goodbye.” The song is primarily known as a Jackson 5 song, but it was also covered by Isaac Hayes in 1971. Downing’s version keeps the blues-inspired feel of Hayes’ version while shadowing the heartbreak that The Jacksons displayed.
Closing out the EP is Downing’s take on John Coltrane’s “My One and Only Love.” I wasn’t too familiar with this song. Downing’s version is reminiscent of big band music and transported me to a Harlem Jazz club. The song is a testament to Downing’s vocal ability.
Will Downing is, without a doubt, one of the best singers in modern music. With his latest release Downing solidifies his ability to sing just about anything and sound good doing it.
EP Highlights – “Déjà Vu.”, “Never Can Say Goodbye.” “You’ll Never Find Another Love like Mine,”
Final Grade B+