If Quincy Jones and Michael League collaborated to produce the next Prince album, they would make something a lot like Got To Let Go. Somewhere between Stevie Wonder and Justin Timberlake, this is an R ‘n’ B album of sophistication and class. At least as close to a Michael Jackson homage as last year’s 20/20, it’s like Dirty Loops without the ADHD. I can sing along, and I actually want to dance to it. There is no Mirrors-esque media hysteria around any of the tracks yet, but there is substance here. The overall aesthetic of the album is gorgeous, warm pop, and the lyrics purvey a sad, wistful optimism, with ballad Miss You deeply, almost brutally emotional. Other standout moments include Big Screen Love (featuring Amy True) and the aggressive D.T.M.B. (featuring Vula). It’s probably impossible to avoid the obvious in pop songs, but Williams seems to reference clichés rather than resorting to them – personal and intimate, his lyrics are like clippings from love letters.

The tender vocal delivery and lush panache of the production make Got To Let Go fresh and inviting at every turn, and, in a handful of places, downright filthy. The performances, arrangements and production on the record are a study in measured restraint, although Williams showcases serious vocal and harmonic chops in songs like Not My Problem and Flatlined. He reveals facility and taste in equal measure in occasional keys solos, with drumming and bass playing throughout that are as funky as anything, ever (as well as writing, arranging and producing his album, Williams plays all the instruments too). Like 2014 Grammy winners Snarky Puppy, Williams gives us music “for the brain and booty”. He succeeds where they fail, however, for this is also music for the heart. Got to Let Go has a humility, confidence and love that are rare in music. Bruno Mars wishes his next album could be this good.


Got To Let Go is released 1 October 2014.



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