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Williams, Joseph: Denizen Tenant

An album each from Toto stalwarts, Joseph Williams and Steve Lukather, both released on the same day and with linked headshot artwork… it’s like KISS in 1978 all over again! Well, not quite but it is a neat idea and with the pair also releasing pre-album singles where they feature in each other’s videos, also a whole lot of fun. Or at least they would be if the music was up to snuff…

Thankfully it is on both counts and non-more so than the pleasingly welcoming Denizen Tenant from Williams, an album that feels as linked to the Toto sound as could be without actually being Toto. But then, with Williams, Lukather, David Paich, Simon Phillips, Lenny Castro, Nathan East, Leland Sklar and Jeff Babko all featuring, maybe that closeness in sound is merely to be expected? There is also more than that going on here, in fact much more, with elements of jazz, West Coast, AOR, prog, amongst other flavours hinted at as we take a mostly leisurely stroll through some finely crafted tunes. The man himself is in fantastic vocal form, the warmth and flexibility of his voice something still to behold, while his phrasing and timing is impeccable.

If I was to be honest, initial impact from this set of songs was pretty low, with only a few more instant wallops smacking me in the face, but with time the magnificent percussive arranging that darts in and out of shimmering vocals, pointed piano and an acoustic guitar solo on “World Broken” really stays with you. It’s not alone, with the atmospheric slither of “Never Saw You Coming” slipping into the sub conscience quite comfortably. Setting and mood are vital as the album progresses, “No Lessons” a piano led meander that hooks you in through some tremendous lyrical interplay that certainly made me nod in agreement as I sang along, whereas “Black Dahlia”, featuring Paich, pops and twirls on a classic West Coast lightness of touch and sleight of hand. Admittedly, I find the modern percussive clicks and tricks of “Wilma Fingadoux” to feel a little forced and out of place but it’s the only moment that I can easily live without here. Even the dangerous covers hit the mark, Williams’ daughter, Hannah Ruick duetting on the Gabriel/Bush classic “Don’t Give Up” to good effect as the song takes a more AOR tone. While the Beatles “If I Fell” stays true to its 60s pop roots, a cracking Lukather cameo adding oomph, as the guitarist also does on “Remember Her”.

I’m guessing that most Toto fans will be jumping all over this album. I’m also pretty sure that that they won’t be disappointed with what’s been served up, which is a release with real heart and soul and which seems to get better and better with each listen.

Track Listing
1. Never Saw You Coming
2. Liberty Man
3. Denizen Tenant
4. Wilma Fingadoux
5. Black Dahlia (ft. David Paich)
6. Don’t Give Up (ft. Hannah Ruick)
7. The Dream
8. Remember Her (ft. Steve Lukather)
9. No Lessons
10. Mistress Winter’s Jump
11. If I Fell (ft. Steve Lukather)
12. World Broken

Added: February 26th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Joseph Williams online
Hits: 214
Language: english

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