James "D-Train" Williams

In Your Eyes

  • AllMusic Rating
    7
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Some R&B historians have blamed technology for the fact that there were so many forgettable R&B recordings in the mid- to late '80s, but technology per se wasn't the problem. It was a question of what artists chose to do with all those synthesizers, sequencers, and drum machines, not the very fact that they were using them. One of the artists who helped usher in the synth-funk era, James "D-Train" Williams wasn't shy about embracing technology. But the Brooklynite was a soul singer at heart, and no matter how high-tech he became, Williams provided synth-funk recordings that were warm, soulful, and inviting rather than sterile or mechanical. His high standards are very much in evidence on In Your Eyes, which was his second (and last) album for Columbia and was the second time he was billed as James "D-Train" Williams the solo artist rather than as half of the duo D-Train. But Hubert Eaves III, the duo's other half, isn't exactly absent from this 1988 effort; in addition to handling most of the keyboards, synthesizers, and drum machines, Eaves co-wrote most of the material -- and that includes energetic synth-funk grooves such as "With All My Heart," "Diamond in the Night," the haunting "Runner," and the title track (a number 11 R&B hit and the album's only single). Uptempo songs dominate the album, but Williams detours into quiet storm territory with the ballads "Shadow of Another Love," "Curious," and "My Friend." Unfortunately, Columbia considered In Your Eyes a commercial disappointment; even though the title track almost made the Top Ten on Billboard's R&B singles chart, the album itself only reached number 46 on Billboard's R&B albums chart. And in 1989, Columbia dropped Williams. But thankfully, In Your Eyes returned to print in 2011, when Funky Town Grooves reissued the album as a 70-minute CD and added four bonus tracks (including dub mixes of "Runner" and the title song). In Your Eyes is less essential than Williams' best Prelude output of the early '80s, but it's a solid effort and reminds us that creatively, Williams was a cut above most of his synth-funk competition.

blue highlight denotes track pick