Desmond Williams

Desmond Williams

Delights of the Garden

18th Street Lounge

OK, look, often times you can judge a book by its cover (Penthouse holds no surprises, does it?), and CD covers more times than not tell you the genre just by their artwork. So, when you see the overshadowed profile of a brother with rope-like dreads, you’ll expect something a lot different than what you get with Delights of the Garden.

Desmond Williams is another rising star in the brilliant Eighteenth Street Lounge constellation. Producing such compilations as Stoned Asia, working with the reggae legend Sugar Minott and label mates Thunderball and Thievery Corporation, it is more than time for Williams to shine.

This CD may very well give him the platform to do so. Looking at the cover, one definitely expects some sort of reggae. But the CD starts with the catchy bossa lounge grooves of “Um Favor” with silky, seductive vocals by Portia Cristina Joo (who returns for the dreamy butter of “First Touch”). Then, we get that gliding, jazzy sound all loungers love with “Cadence.” In fact, it is not until well into the album that we get any idea that there are any reggae corpuscles floating around in Williams’ blood (he has worked with Minott, right?!). Then, we’re served a nice, lackadaisical dub, “This Morning,” and a more dance-oriented one, “Dread a the Roughest,” with its U Roy-sounding vocals.

Williams has a really nice touch, able to mix disparate influences into an enjoyable whole. The title track has a nice high-hat jazz drum with an ululating R&B guitar groove and Arabic/Indian vocals. But, what really stands out is his dub/lounge concoctions that are real genre-benders a la Bill Laswell. “High Speed Drift,” “Brooklyn Blues,” and “Wilcher Waltz” close out this strong CD with a Kingston-meets-Paris blend that is sure to intrigue, adding anabolic strength to ESL’s considerably strong body of work.

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