Title: Introducing Stokley
Formats: CD, MP3
Release date: June 23, 2017
Introducing Stokley by Stokley Williams is an interesting record, and I mean that in most complimentary way possible. Williams, well known to R&B fans for the past twenty plus years as the lead singer of the band Mint Condition, steps out on Introducing Stokley to chart his own course. It would have been very easy for Williams to tread the tried and true path of Mint Condition (who are one of the best bands to come out of the 1990s along with Tony! Toni! Toné!), but instead Williams brings forth an offering which is simultaneously approachable and eclectic.
The album’s opener and lead single “Level” finds Williams embracing a modern R&B feel with hip-hop leanings. The track is rhythmic and bangs with hard 808 drums that compliment Williams’ always excellent singing surprisingly well.
On “Think of U” Stokley’s voice, which sounds somewhat reminiscent of Stevie Wonder, is on full display. Williams has always been a strong vocalist and he doesn’t hold back on his solo debut. “Art In Motion” serves as kind of a bridge between electronic and acoustic music, with an appearance by Robert Glasper on keyboards. The song’s breakdown is especially interesting as all the elements mix together.
“Victoria” is probably the most “experimental” track on the album, playing into Williams’ flair for drama as a man pleading for a woman’s presence. The musical backing for the song includes elements of jazz, R&B and African influences, all held together by Stokley’s vocals which he enjoys playing around with throughout the track. “U&I” is a duet with Estelle which works very well as a modern adaptation of the great male/female duos like Donny Hathaway & Roberta Flack or Jerry Butler & Thelma Houston. “Forecast” sees Williams’ incorporating an ever so slight hard rock element as he laments the difficult outlook on a not-so-good relationship. The album’s closer, “Wheels Up,” is an uplifting (pun intended) track about not letting others rain on your parade. Williams, who is also a talented percussionist, lends some steel drum to this track.
With Introducing Stokley, the artist achieves the difficult task of engaging fans of his work with Mint Condition while making this solo effort truly his own.
Reviewed by Levon Williams