Landon Williams – “Tonight” single review


Genuine stylists don’t come along too often. The life of a musical chameleon has limited commercial appeal and, after the initial novelty wears off, certain resentments invariably set in directed at some performers. Others, however, never work in such an indelible way that they can’t maintain a strong core audience through more or less continuous re-invention. Landon Williams has yet, before the release of his new single “Tonight”, to explore his higher register much on any released recordings or over the course of an entire song. While “Tonight” is far from epic in length, clocking in a little less than three minutes, it’s a meaningful workout that Williams acquits himself well with. The production is a highly stylized piece of work, as well, but producer PJ Bianco never loses sight of Williams’ critical importance to the success of “Tonight”.

If “Tonight” is an unofficial teaser for the quality on his first full-length album, planned for a fall release, then admirers are in for a special moment. Rarely does such a young performer master such an appealing cross-section of styles so readily, but his ability to fuse them into a coherent whole is further impressive. The recurring guitar riff reminds me of an arching eyebrow, skeptical of everything its hearing, and the feeling matches up with lyrics’ unsettled emotions and questioning tone. Williams’ vocal embodies that same feeling with probing phrasing that really rolls with the musical mood.

There’s a lot of darkness here, heavy with doubt, but the band never overplays a thing. It helps give the song a lean credibility that it might otherwise lack – experienced music lovers can certainly remembers songs like this that asked listeners for nothing and didn’t challenge their emotions or imagination at all. Williams’ songwriting structures “Tonight” in such a way that the song’s bridge serves as a climax instead of an extended instrumental break. It’s a decision that works for many reasons, but one of the most important factors for some listeners will be the light jolt of surprise it prompts for subverting expectations.

“Tonight” gives Williams unimpeachable bonafides from this point forward. Even though it plays directly for pop radio, it’s product from one of the best young stylists working in music today, regardless of genre. Landon Williams has multiple talents and those following his growth are well advised to hear this song.

Michael Saulman