Joseph Williams / A truly gorgeous album of the type that comes along rarely.
6 March 2021
Joseph Williams, the voice of the Toto classic releases ‘Fahrenheit’ and ‘The Seventh One’ has returned with his first solo album in a decade. The Toto connection does not end there either.
Joseph Williams – Denizen Tenant (The Players Club / Mascot Label Group)
Release Date: 26 February 2021
Words: Kahmel Farahani
‘Denizen Tenant’ is loosely released as a companion album to Steve Lukather’s brilliant new album ‘I Found The Sun Again’. While Lukather’s album is a more Rock ‘N’ Roll affair, William’s ‘Denizen Tenant’ is a different prospect entirely.
From melodic pop sweetness to soaring, densely layered and almost progressive sounds, Williams takes the listener on a real sonic journey with this album. Think of Toto’s more mellow and progressive moments married to Peter Gabriel like lush soundscapes and you get an idea of the music here.
Joseph Williams told MetalTalk about the making of the new album:
”It was a lot of work and we are thrilled it is coming out. Luke [Toto bandmate Steve Lukather] had planned to do his album separately and I had started chipping away at material I had started in 2016.
“I just started writing some pieces… I had no record deal and just started working it on my own. After the fact, Luke introduced me to his label. Then we thought, what if we released them together, it might be nice for Toto fans!
“I hope people dig the album – it meant a lot to me when I was making it and I still really like it.”
The album opens with the utterly brilliant ‘Never Saw You Coming’. A richly layered, mid tempo melodic masterpiece, it showcases Williams’ ageless vocal harmonies bouncing around a mix of keys and restrained guitar work. It would not sound out of place on a modern Toto record either. ‘Liberty Man’ starts with the shuffle of drums before Williams’ vocal sweeps in for a rousing chorus.
The title track ‘Denizen Tenant’ starts off sounding like The Police, with funky drums and bass underpinning another gorgeous vocal arrangement. ‘Black Dahlia’ is a beautiful, understated love song with jazzy, Steely Dan style melodies and fellow Toto bandmate David Paich making a cameo on the keys.
One thing that is constant across the entire album is the richness of the music and the mix. It is hard to describe without sounding clichéd, but thankfully we asked Joseph Williams to explain his sonic preferences to MetalTalk:
“My take is that real human beings recording real music is always the best. Something is missing if you do not have humanity there somewhere, if it is all digital.
“It has to have humanity. Like a movie score without some real instruments, orchestra or not, it does not sound rich enough.”
Don’t Give Up
The moving version of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Don’t Give Up’ is a perfect example of this orchestral feel in action.
A beautiful ballad completed by Williams’ own daughter covering the original Kate Bush vocal part. ‘The Dream’ is a more funky and upbeat number while ‘Remember Her’ is a fine uplifting number.
The album ends with the dramatic, self-realization of ‘World Broken’. “I’ve got to roll on” sings a confidant Joseph Williams, with sweeping strings and rich percussion ringing behind him.
A perfectly tasteful way to end a mature and beautiful record.
‘Denizen Tenant’ is then a truly gorgeous album of the type that comes along rarely.
When taken alongside the more rocking and heavy Lukather album, you would be hard pressed to find a more balanced and rewarding set of songs in 2021, or any year for that matter.