Like a comfortable chair, it is easy to settle down into Will Downing's get-away-from-it-all smooth-jazz grooves.

Like a comfortable chair, it is easy to settle down into Will Downing's get-away-from-it-all smooth-jazz grooves. His delicious, smooth-as-butter baritone still retains its rich textures on this follow-up to his 2002 Verve/GRP debut, "Sensual Journey." More personal than his last outing, "Emotions" finds Downing tapping further into his R&B influences. His subtle vocal command and distinctive phrasing combine for creative readings on Aretha Franklin's "Daydreaming" and the Eddie Holman classic "Hey There Lonely Girl." But Downing's co-penned father/daughter ballad, "Beautiful to Me," is the real capper here. Having made his debut in 1988, Downing has yet to become a household name among U.S. audiences. This may very well change with "Emotions."—GM