In that sense, Williams' is a set that offers the more polished yin to Lukather's untethered yang. Both of course, have a very valid place in Toto's overall aesthetic, but from the off, it's clear that Williams has accomplished, sonically, exactly what he set out to do.
Not so much kicking off as easing in with the understated ‘Never Say You Coming’, its uncluttered production and crystal clear sound set the tone for the album. A dense, measured piece, it really shows off the range of Williams’ rich voice; from the highs to the very lowest lows.
Kicking the mood upwards, the David Paich co-write ‘Liberty Man’ follows, with the Toto pianist's ear for melody informing the supremely uplifting track.
'Denzien Tenant', however, is and album of both light and shade, and ‘Wilma Fingadoux’, conjures a much darker note than elsewhere on the album. A “reflection of the painful yet wonderful place in my memory” where Williams talks to his mother (whom he lost at the age of 13), it's an altogether more pensive piece. Harmonising with his daughters Ray Williams and Hannah Ruick, it’s among the most personal moments on the album.
Hannah also lends her not inconsiderable talents to a faithful cover of Peter Gabriel's 'Don't Give Up'. Turning it into a "father / daughter song", Ruick fits the Kate Bush role perfectly, alongside her father. It's a beautiful moment.
It's not the only place where family lend a hand, and Joseph hooks up with onetime brother-in-law and producer of his earliest solo efforts Jay Gruska, for the funky ‘Black Dalhia’. Taking the production reins as well, Gruska layers on Toto-esque harmonies, which are juxtaposed against freeform, jazzy guitar licks from the man himself.
Williams really excels however, when he's being most earnest, and this is none more so demonstrated than in the driving 'Remember Her', and particularly, the affirming album closer 'World Broken'. With achingly beautiful melodies that play out over stirring musical soundscape, the ebb and flow of these dramatic, widescreen tracks is simply stunning.
With a punchy production that leaves plenty of room for the singers towering vocals to soar, 'Denzien Tenant' is a captivating listen at the poppier end of the Toto spectrum.
Read our March 2021 interview with Joseph Williams, here.
'Denzien Tenant' is available now, via The Players Club / Mascot Label Group.