Duane Williams

These Songs Are For For You

Catalogue # SJCD5001

Posted in: Release Listings

Duane Williams - These Songs Are For You

Release Date: April 2009

I have already sung the praises of the Soul Junction 7" release from Duane Williams, "Yes, My Love Is Real", and I have been looking forward to a follow-up album.

Here it now is, 12 glorious songs that showcase Duane's more than soulful credentials and Will Hatcher's excellent writing and production skills. This is quality independent stuff, as fans of the 7" single will already attest. As you know, Duane was one half of 70s soul duo Beverly and Duane, and two songs from that album are recreated here with the sole input of Duane Williams. "Living In A World" is given a modern, funkier and more bassy reading with a vocal slant that would make Gerald Alston proud, and also check "Living In A World" which is given a modern remake. I like both versions of both songs, and enough has been done to make these different enough to make them tracks in their own right.

The Gospel-tinged "Father We're Having Trouble" addresses today's ills and issues and reminds me of how the great Ronnie McNeir would tackle these issues. Musically we're into modern Lonnie Hill "No Games" territory, and the sparse backing and harsh snare compliment the expansive keys and impassioned vocal pleas. Great stuff on here. The rumbling old school ballad "I'm In Love" will please many ears and the vocal delivery is straight out of the good old days of soul music, and I again hear Gerald Alston taking this track on.

Ronnie McNeir again springs to mind with the music which underpins "Oh Me, Oh My (Wonderful)". Should there be a second single release then this, in my honest opinion, is the track I would plumb for. This is great soul music for 2009.

The uptempo basspin-rumbler "Come With Me" should also impress - the scratchy guitar and synth work well on this. The bass leap-frogs atop a jostling rhythm and after a few plays will really get into your brain. Now all we're waiting on is the forthcoming CD from Audio!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

I first became aware of Duane Williams when his delicious 'Yes My Love Is Real' was featured on a Soul Unsigned compilation. The song is a great old school mid-tempo groove but the big attraction was the man's voice. Cracked and broken, it has all the world-weary qualities of the great soul men – most notably Bobby Womack.

I needed to know more, and I eventually tracked down the source album (this one) to the Midlands based Soul Junction Records. From them I learned that Duane hailed from Detroit and that his debut in the music biz was as a foil to his wife Beverley way back in the 70s. As a duo they recorded for Detroit's Fee label before moving to Brown Bomber Records (owned by Joe Louis' nephew). In the 80s the Williams family relocated to Los Angeles but sadly the pair divorced and Duane found himself back in the Motor City where he hooked up with an old friend Will Hatcher – who found him a recording deal with Soul Junction records and the first fruit was the aforementioned 'Yes My Love Is Real' –already a huge modern soul favourite. Between them, Williams, Hatcher and Soul Junction put together this album and since its release some months back it's been garnering a big reputation on the underground soul scene. Without too much hype, 'These Songs Are For You' has slowly won its way into the hearts of the soul cognoscenti and it's easy to hear why. In a word – it's the man's voice.

We've already described its attractions and even on material that isn't particularly strong and/or suffering from production budgetary restraints, that voice saves the day. So on stuff like 'Father We're Having Trouble' and 'I'm In Love' - where the synth lines and the drum machines sound particularly thin - that great old school soul voice makes both more than acceptable.

The good news, though, is that there are some really great songs on here and those songs are produced so that the vocal qualities really shine through. Of course, 'Yes, My Love Is Real' leads the way, but 'What' Your Name' is another great mid-tempo soul groove while 'This Song Is For You' is a lovely soulful ballad. Standout, though, has to be the perfectly understated 'Oh Me, Oh My (Wonderful)' – nothing gimmicky or uncomplicated – soul as it was and how it still can be. Indeed this album is the perfect antidote to those gainsayers who forever say that proper soul just isn't being made any more. Here's the proof that it is.

Bill Buckley

Duane Williams - These Songs Are For You