Brandon Williams has a penchant for setting the mood, and with rainy weather and chilly temps on the horizon, his latest album Vulnerable is just the soundtrack we need for cozy times with someone special. The producer/composer/arranger/multi-instrumentalist linked up with an incredible lineup of musicians to create acoustic versions of select tracks from his previous albums XII and The Love Factor.
In speaking of the concept, Williams explains, "Vulnerability is very important to me. I feel that when you strip away the layers in relationships, and in this case, music, perfection can be seen inside of the imperfections. With this album, I wanted to pull the covers back on some of my songs to showcase the immense beauty within them and allow the listener to hear these works in a refreshing and more open way."
Vulnerable begins with "Godsend," a sultry, satisfying instrumental led by saxophonist De'Sean Jones. Backed by gorgeous harmonies and swooning strings, the listener is instantly entranced by Artia Lockett's exquisite vocals on "Love Dance," with Taylor Eigsti's romantic keys offering an extra touch of jazz. Pianist/composer Demetrius Nabors works his magic on the ivories while frequent Williams collaborator Brian McKnight Jr. puts us in a sentimental mood on "In Love."
"Leave Love Be" was an instant favorite when we first heard it back in 2014. But this acoustic version?! Alex Isley is perfection, floating among the clouds with feathery vocals beautifully accompanied by Marcus Elliot (sax) and Allyn Johnson (piano). Ms. Isley is so nice, she's featured twice; this time for "Say You Love Me," a stunning collaboration with D.C. native Sequoia Snyder and saxophonist Jeff Ponders II. Singer-songwriter Matt Cusson gets vulnerable (no pun intended) and gives us all the feels on "Everything," while the vocal interplay between Amara and Joe Poré on "Deeper" is titillating and magnetic.
The album closes with alternate takes on "Love Dance" (enhanced by Marcus Miller's atmospheric bass) and "Godsend" featuring the talented Simon Novsky on piano. Even though the songs are familiar, Brandon's stellar production elevates Vulnerable to new heights. "In the middle of a global pandemic when so many people are dealing with the loss of life and a failing economy, I feel that this album of ‘adult lullabies’ is filled with exactly the type of beauty that we need in the world right now," Williams explains. Yes, sir, and yes, indeed! We love to see (and hear) it.