Direct from American Idol Television notoriety, Donnie Williams is already being called by some, a future Luther Vandross. He teams up here with special guests and fellow American Idol finalist Latoya London, supported beautifully by Park Place and a line up of super star musicians. Combining wonderful uptempo beats with beautiful balladry, it is no wonder that bassist Nelson Braxton of the Braxton Brothers calls Williams "the LeBron James of R&B". Williams is a perfect-pitched tenor whose romantically atmospheric style perfectly compliments his intimate delivery, transforming intense sexuality into pure musical seduction.
Donnie Williams - Just Like Magic
After listening, I am comfortable noting that Donnie Williams more than lives up to his professional accolades. "Just Like Magic" is the debut release for this 25-year old vocalist from Baton Rouge. Characterized as music of the soul, "Just Like Magic" is a lavishly appointed cathedral of candlelight and sweet soul that is a celebration of what R&B should be. The CD begins with "Running", which is an instantly likable song and a great showcase for Williams' prepossessing vocals. Arguably the strongest track on the disc, "Running" utilizes soft-tempo and understated yet potent R&B production that forces the focus on Williams' tremendous vocal range. He doesn't disappoint.
On "Show Me", Williams delivers an incendiary seductive song that is both cool and hot, a provocative and alluring request for intimacy. Creating a shimmering sensitivity that is delicate and robust at the same time, Williams stands toe-to-toe with some of the great, soulfully seductive vocalists of the past; Teddy Pendergrass, Jeffrey Osborne, Billy Paul, Brian McKnight, even James Moody. Not only does "Show Me" create an intimate mood, it defines it. "What Is Love" has similar characteristics. In fact, the record's hottest tracks are as much incantatory as they are narrative.
Williams expresses himself in a serene emotional midrange, from which he soars to expressive peaks on "Always Be", a song that builds to an amazing musical and vocal crescendo that is possibly the best example of the singer's expansive range and immense talent. "Given You Everything" has all the ingredients for a chart-climbing R&B and crossover hit - a bright, uncluttered production style highlighted by star-quality backing vocals to seal the deal.
"Send My Baby Back", which features equally stunning lead vocals from Latoya London is another song that is bound to be a hit. London is equally magnificent on "Used To Be", which has a genuine and decidedly "Destiny's Child" feel that would provide a great backdrop for the pool parties this summer.
"Just Like Magic" is a stellar debut, a wonderful gem featuring solid production, sexy arrangements and equally alluring vocals from both Williams and London. A throwback to classic soul and R&B with a decidedly modern feel, Williams has captured the essence of what the genre strives to be. By combining convincing emotion, heartfelt lyrics, sincere seduction and a few soft-spoken phrases here and there, "Just Like Magic" feels more like a veteran effort than a debut release. There is not one sub par song on this five-star effort. "Just Like Magic" is a winner.