Visually, Wilson-James seems to be trying for a sort of bleached Grace Jones look. Musically, she has a sweet but not too distinctive voice and a very good friend. That’s Jazzie B., the leader of the British group Soul II Soul, who executive-produced this debut and whose imprimatur it carries. (Wilson-James is an Indianapolis native who moved to England in 1985 and gained notice as part of Soul II Soul.)
If you’ve heard the single “Through,” you have a sense of this album’s overall mood: loose-gaited R&B, punctuated with emphatically bowed strings. “Through” stands out because of Nathan East’s punchy bass. Other picks include “2nd Nature,” “Woman of Colours” and “Rest of Your Life,” another kicking outing for East, best known as an Eric Clapton sideman.
The entire release, however, is too vaporous. Soul II Soul’s tour of the States last summer began with a 20-minute fashion show (Jazzie B. fancies himself a designer as well as a musician), and that’s what these tracks seem suited for. This is rhythmic, relaxed runway music, not dynamic enough to command full attention. (Epic)