William Topley

Spanish Wells

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Like his countryman Sting, ex-Blessed singer William Topley draws influence from disparate genres to create a sound that is distinctly his own. Also like Sting (at least during his Police years), Topley is able to respectfully integrate touches of reggae into his music without offending the listener (particularly evident in "Kingston Morning" and "Ten Ten"). Topley's rich baritone is also well suited to classic American soul, which he uses as a frequent touchstone. He shows some real chops on "Cold Hard Road" -- which has a genuine Deep Soul feel vibe (à la Otis Redding) -- while "I Am the Man" is a nice fusion of reggae and '60s soul. There's also a driving Motown element to the chorus of "Nothing to Laugh About." With Spanish Wells, Topley offers an eclectic album that provides a nice canvas for his powerful voice. The high production value and instrumentation places it well into adult contemporary territory -- but it is a highly listenable, more challenging brand of AC (see the aforementioned Sting).

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