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Don-E - Natural

Don-E, Natural

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

DON-E may not be a name that’s on everyone’s lips musically, but he’s been around for longer than you may immediately give him credit for.

The Brixton native has written songs and produced for the likes of Mica Paris, his cousin Beverly Knight and the Sugababes – so it’s little wonder that he’s decided to step into the limelight with an album of original recordings of his own.

The result is a slick collection of pop and R’n‘B that has already been lapped up by DJs at 1Xtra, Choice, Kiss and Radio 1. But is it any good? In parts, yes, Don-E proves himself to be quite a smooth groover – but the album never quite manages to live up to the sum of its parts.

It comes complete with several good-looking collaborations, featuring ex-Sugababes Mutya Buena, as well as Keisha Buchanan and Kele Le Roc, but it never quite ignites in the way that you feel it should.

Album opener Addictive Luv is arguably as good as it gets, a slick R’n‘B dancefloor filler that contains more than a cursory nod to the sound of Michael Jackson in his prime, as well as the slick production values of Timbaland. It’s definitely a funky performer that’s capable of putting Don-E’s name firmly in the spotlight.

But it tends to promise more than the rest of the album can ultimtately deliver.

Love Shine In is supposed to be sultry, but feels more than a little cheesy, while Stay Away is nicely produced but a little soulless. A cover version of the Bob Marley classic Waiting In Vain, meanwhile, is just plain wrong – slower, less emotional and actually quite ponderous.

Writing’s On The Wall, his duet with Keisha Buchanan, lacks much spark, while Time Is Now fails to match the quality of Mutya Muena’s work with the Sugababes, or collaborations with artists like Groove Armada. It’s just a little too sultry and seems to be trying too hard.

If anything, the album needs more tracks like Addictive Luv or Kool, which drops a genuinely felel-good melody over a vibe that’s indicative of Motown.

Don-E may have worked with some of the premiere names in pop, and boasts a notable family connection, but he has his work cut out making his mark as a solo artist in his own right. Natural shows the occasional sign but you’ll probably feel he needs a much stronger set of songs than this.

Download picks: Addictive Luv, Kool

Track listing:

  1. Addictive Luv
  2. Love Shine In
  3. Kool
  4. Stay A While
  5. Writing’s On The Wall – Don-E & Keisha Buchanan
  6. Waiting In Vain
  7. You And I
  8. Get Off
  9. E-Scape [interlude]
  10. Drive
  11. Like I Like It – Don-E & Kele Le Roc
  12. So Cold – Don-E & Azure/D’Angelo
  13. Holla At Me
  14. Natural
  15. Time Is Now – Don-E & Mutya Buena