Vocalist/professional heartbreaker Will Downing didn’t get to the top of the R&B heap by being shy. He’s not afraid to declare himself ALL THE MAN YOU NEED in no uncertain terms. While there are plenty of contemporary R&B earmarks throughout this album, Downing throws in left-field touches that keep the arrangements interesting. Jazz-inflected chord changes and doo-wop vocal harmonies here, subtle breakbeats there, Stevie Wonder-ish melodic turns; all provide ample evidence of the breadth of Downing’s vision.
Like any great R&B singer, Downing focuses on romance (though the occasional detour, such as an updated take on Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” provides contrast). But his approach is subtle and involving, much more effective than the overstatement and obviousness of too many of his peers. Downing’s soulful, sexy voice remains in quiet control of the continually surprising production throughout ALL THE MAN YOU NEED.