Landon Williams – “Tonight” single review
While Landon Williams’ brief musical career has been marked with distinction, little will prepare those familiar with his music for the surprise of “Tonight”. The Colorado native channels a host of influences for this superb quasi-homage to smooth, more groove-oriented r&b. The blues influences in the track are pronounced – anyone interested and possessing the needed musical identification will hear it immediately in the low-key restraint, moody guitar motif, and familiar progression. It isn’t a hollow triumph or one of style over substance. Instead, the track’s highly stylized texture helps push it from the realm of the merely memorable up to the level of impressive achievement.
The interplay between players creates an almost immediately simmering tension that the song resolutely refuses to surrender. Instead of releasing the listener, the lack of a clear climax seems to play into the song’s subject matter of an uneasy dance of attraction unfolding between two principles. The chorus has a strong hook, but provides more of a turnaround than any crescendo. The closest the song comes to an ending is the bridge near its end, but even that only ratchets up the intensity a few degrees and resists any inclinations towards melodrama.
Williams’ vocal plays like a clear nod to Marvin Gaye, but while he matches Gaye’s musicality, he lacks the legendary Motown singer’s power. This is no slight against Williams. His range may not contain much of the muscular bellow devotees often prefer in r&b singers, but his wide emotional range and attentive phrasing considerably outdistances his peers. The guitar part acts as almost a call-and-response second vocalist and the deceptively simple figure recurring through the song serves as a sort of defining musical brushstroke that fleshes out the picture.
In the time since his 2013 debut, Williams has garnered a lot of well-deserved praise and earned the chance to take his powerful music worldwide through recordings and live performance. It is easy to find a formula for budding success and ride it into a seven-figure bankroll, but Williams has wisely opted to pursue his own wayward muse. Moreover, his wisdom extends to surrounding himself with strong collaborators like producer/songwriter PJ Bianco who can help him realize his vision. “Tonight” is the next step in a long and rewarding journey.