The well-known session guitarist made some slow but steady inroads into the smooth jazz realm with two well-received albums, 2001's With Every Touch and especially Bringin' It Back, but made an even greater case for genre stardom with this beautifully played, incredibly diverse disc that features a generous 15 tracks and 70 minutes of non-stop, surprise-filled electric and acoustic action. While fitting right in among better-established genre artists like Norman Brown, Blake Aaron pays tribute to everyone from Wes Montgomery (the bright, breezy, radio-ready "Bumpin' on the Wes Side") to Thelonious Monk and Grover Washington, Jr. (the simmering and soulful "Harmonious Funk"). He really hit his stride on the fast and furious, intensely rocking "Baby Likes the Blues," a scorching track that would give Jeff Golub a run for his smooth jazz-meets-blues money. It's a bit ironic that Aaron named the first track after his obvious guitar hero, because as tasty and catchy as it is, he didn't start truly bumpin' till the more intensely funky "Come on Over," which pitted his crackling electric with co-producer Paul Brown's bright rhythm guitars. Brown also contributed his Midas-behind-the-boards-touch to the slow jam "Shine," which introduced listeners to Aaron's gentler acoustic charms and allowed newcomer Jessy J to shimmer on flute. As inventive as Aaron's playing was throughout, he pretty much stuck to the in-the-pocket stuff on most of the tracks (not that this is a bad thing!). Glorious exceptions to this vibe are the soulful, jazz quartet-flavored "In Her Sweet Way" (on which the listener can feel Aaron's guitar "crying"), and the feisty samba-lite of "Run Away with You." By 2007, smooth jazz was glutted with way too many cover songs, but Aaron managed to find inventive ways to express "Fragile" (adding a fun Brazilian twist) and Billy Preston's funk masterpiece "Will It Go Round in Circles." Overall, Desire was one of the genre's best releases of 2007.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran