Photo Caption:  David Lee records his first album. Photo courtesy of David Lee.

What caught my eye about David Lee’s “Without Any Guard” was that it was created in collaboration with the late Willie Mitchell. I admit that I was excited to plop this into my stereo system. I mean, soul, pop and Willie: What could be better than that?

The release of “Without Any Guard” will be a first for Lee as his debut album. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Lee says he’s devoted himself to writing and performing. All of which culminated to this debut album of his dreams.

This album was also Willie’s final project before his passing in 2010 — sadly, before its completion. It would take another three years of patience and perseverance for Lee to finish this project on his own.

I found that this album has a certain rhythm and style that is the signature of Willie Mitchell. It is a throwback to the old-school tunes that are the essence of the Soul Man himself. All of this is infused with Lee’s writing, composition and distinct voice. Think indie pop artist Ben Gibbard mixed with your local church worship team vocals.

Although I enjoyed the music, I felt that the singing just didn’t quite make the cut. What lacks is a certain depth. Just like a dish that leaves you unsatisfied, the majority of this album leaves you yearning for something more.

All of the tracks hover around a similar counter-tenor like tone. In a way, it is as if you were listening to the same song just with different words, albeit a little too homogenous. Unfortunately, Lee’s voice just does not command or take charge. I found myself wanting to like this album. Alas, that never happened.

Singing aside, Lee’s lyrics and composition demonstrate his talent. I can see why Willie decided to work with him. It is a start for this young artist most notably his opportunity to team with a great producer. However at the end of the day, I like my soul to be soulful and my pop to pop. Let’s see what Lee has in store for his next project.

David Lee’s “Without Any Guard” comes out on February 12.

Learn more, preview or pre-order his album online:


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