Antoine Dunn - Truth Of The Matter
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He’s not even 25 years old yet, but when you look at, listen to and become familiar with the back-story of Antoine Dunn, it’s clear that he’s an old soul. Born in Cleveland, raised in the church and cultivating a professional rep as a commissioned songwriter practically right out of high school, Mr. Dunn already possesses what most labels crave in a new artist. A chance meeting is what introduced him to an industry vet like Edwin “Tony” Nicholas, but it takes more than luck to end up with a debut as soul-stirring and solid as Truth of the Matter.
It speaks to an undeniable depth and dedication on his part to take the long way around musically---after all, in this particular day and age, being well-marketed eye candy is usually enough to push things off. But it’s apparent that he has stories to tell, and those narratives are made all the richer with Mr. Nicholas’s steady hands, the lush and intricate vintage-type grooves and Mr. Dunn’s vivid wordplay (he wrote/co-wrote the entire project). He doesn’t have big, booming vocals----his cadence occasionally hearkens to Musiq Soulchild’s----but he has a tender quality to his tone that injects heft into his pair of whimsical singles (“Miss My Love,” “Can’t Forget” ), steadies the resolve in “It’s Over” and “I Just Want To Say,” a mercurial mid tempo that finds him at the end of his rope in a turbulent union and ready to cut her loose: “See, no more waiting up, sitting by the phone/cuz it’s your turn, for you to be alone, alone/ I know I’ve made mistakes, and I’ve had to right some wrongs/but Babe…..I’ve moved on.”
He has enough rasp and rawness to sell the angst of a man twice his age about issues he doesn’t presently have in the bluesy “Stand Tall,” where the cost of living seems too high and giving up seems too steep: “See I got bills and, I got kids that, need a place to live oh, I know that it could be better than what it is…” It’s rare to hear a young man declare himself ready to settle into monogamy, but he’s all but written a blackpeoplemeet.com profile in the sincerely sentimental “One Woman Man (I’m Ready).” And if his friends crack on him for turning in the player’s card, Mr. Dunn will shut them down with the infectious let-me-count-the-ways jam, “She Pleases Me.”
Antoine’s debut is so cohesive and so well-crafted that it’s hard to nit-pick for flaws, but they do exist: “Sweet Lady” finds him struggling with which scale he wants to use, and some moments of nasality can distract from the heady instrumentation in the otherwise atmospheric title track. But those wobbly moments shouldn’t detract from the warmth and the wisdom that he’s gifted enough to translate into song. The more he loses himself in the grooves, burrows deeper into his vulnerabilities and splays out the contents, the more folks will recognize Mr. Dunn’s steeped-in-soul appeal and anticipate a possible legend in the making, and that’s the Truth of the Matter right here. Recommended.
By Melody Charles