Picks and Pans Review: Niecy
Ten years ago Williams got a call from Stevie Wonder asking if she'd be interested in joining his backup group Wonderlove for a tour he was making with the Rolling Stones. She said yes, and she hasn't known many noes in her career since. After leaving Wonder, the Gary, Ind. songbird went solo and has collaborated with such pop powerhouses as Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire and Johnny Mathis, on his Too Much, Too Little, Too Late. Niecy marks the beginning of another fruitful partnership—this time with Philadelphian Thorn Bell, the producer who has crafted sounds for artists ranging from Elton John to the Spinners. Williams presents him with not only a vibrant soprano but also a talent for composing love songs that has blossomed on recent albums (she has done five others). Bell has marvelous taste in putting gemlike voices in beautiful musical settings. The eight songs here are upbeat, soulful and polished. Particularly alluring is the Williams-Bell tune Waiting by the Hotline. It ought to keep both their phones ringing for some time.