Picks and Pans Review: A Dream Fulfilled
With his third album, this R&B Romeo moves further in the direction of sophisticated, jazz-tempered soul, staking out his claim as the male Anita Baker. This stance is nowhere more apparent than on "She," a lush jazz ballad that's elevated by Kevin Eubanks's skittering guitar solo. If Downing seems almost to pant his way through this number, it's no wonder: He's giving Luther Vandross a run for his money with the modulated emotion of his delivery.
Downing is at his most passionate on "Giving My All to You," with drummer Omar Hakim and bass player Tinker Bar-field laying down a solid foundation, over which the singer can explore his feelings. Keyboardist Onaje Allan Gumbs provides a deft arrangement—both smoothed out and souped up—of Paul Davis's 1977 hit, "I Go Crazy."
This collection includes no pandering, no funky beats, no new-jack wall of sound, no pillow talk, no street-corner bragging. What the album does possess is an enormously impressive singer with a strong sense of style. (Island)