How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Toni Lynn Washington sings no-nonsense R&B for discerning adults. You won’t find any needless vocal gymnastics, puerile posturing or annoying electronic effects on this lady's recordings – just soulful, mature songs from a savvy singer and her accomplished horn-based band.
Washington is known as Boston’s queen of the blues, but she’s less a blues belter than a refined R&B vocalist similar in style to Irma Thomas and Ruth Brown, two singers blessed with somewhat stronger voices. Washington may not have the range or power of the preeminent R&B divas, but she’s a classy stylist whose music is forthright and soulful. Moreover, her horn-centered sextet is as polished as any ensemble currently playing rootsy R&B.
Washington’s third Tone-Cool release is a sophisticated collection of horn-fueled R&B, soul-drenched ballads, jazzed-up blues, and funk. While most of the songs on Good Things are originals, Washington also pays tribute to recently departed legends Johnny Adams ("Eye to Eye"), Joe Williams ("Okay, Alright, You Win") and former collaborator Edward Frank ("Satisfaction"). From the bouncy jump of "Meet Me in the Middle" to the wistful soul of "Oh What a Dream," Washington and her ultra-tight band generate a full-bodied sound.
Washington’s singing reflects a lifetime of emotional and musical experiences. There’s an inspired world-weariness to her voice on "I Don’t Know Why," "The Hammer" and "You’re Gonna Make Me Cry." With its deep-soul chorus and strong melody, the latter is perhaps the most stunning track on the album. With its intricate Steely Dan-like horns and catchy beat, "The Hammer" rates a close second.
Washington effectively assumes the role of the worldly romantic on tracks like "Satisfaction" and "Looking at the Future." She tackles atmospheric soul on "Good Things Come To Those Who Wait," slow blues on "I Don’t Know Why," funk on "I’ve Had Enough" and cool jazzy blues on "We Don’t See Eye to Eye."
There simply aren’t any weak tracks on this tasteful release. And man, that horn section is as snappy as they come.