Kyle Williams

Shades of Grey

Pegging a musical project as “easy listening” is not necessarily a bad thing. In the case of Shades of Grey, an EP of five soft acoustic ballads by Chico troubadour Kyle Williams, “easy listening” is a darned good thing. Once the CD starts spinning, the crafty, soulful pop songs rise above Chico garage-band status, to a place where they could almost hold their own in a CD shuffler with the likes of Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz. The opening track, “Do What You Want,” is the favorite here, a catchy little tale of a man showing his vulnerable side while singing his alliance of love: “You can do what you want, I’m just gonna want what you do.” Soft guitar, with accompanying bass and light drum brush strokes combine nicely with Williams’ right-on-the-mark tenor. The fistful of songs that the dreadlocked singer/songwriter puts forth on this effort won’t knock you off your feet, but the four main ingredients—arrangement, production, song craftsmanship and voice—all score better than average, making Shades of Grey a nice stepping stone that Williams could ride to success.