Donald Sheffey - This Is Life
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When we last left Donald Sheffey in 2011, he was celebrating the fifth anniversary of his pride and joy in Weezie Productions with Between You & I. A year later, not much has changed with the musical bubbly as this singer/songwriter/producer still keeps business as usual. Since opening the doors of his self-contained entertainment company, Sheffey thrives on the ultimate mission to produce silky soul with real purpose backed by vocal fundamentals without the auto-tune trappings and overly hyped antics. With inspirations representing the best of classic stylists like Will Downing, Luther Vandross and Freddie Jackson, Sheffey’s baritone glides through ballads and mid-tempo grooves. As a former DJ and collaborators with DJ Aphreme & LeRoi, Sheffey makes sure to sprinkle the club jams in between.
This is Life marks Sheffey’s sixth release, backed by his solid in-house production team of Ernest McCullough and Jason Persico. There are plenty of enticing upbeat moments like “Party Going On” for all the steppers, “Turn it Out” that flows with soft Latin juices and the murky ‘house music’ textures (and an all too brief swing break) of “Get Away,” that fully smells of future remixes.
Sheffey provides the full-on sexy in “Hot Lover” (co-written by Di-Lee from U.K.’s Soulchoonz radio) and rebukes those on “Get Out” for those overindulgent party habits. Dave Mullen’s saxophone and Sheffey’s baritone spruces up the jazz zone on “I’m In To You,” while the title track’s dramatic theme of life’s ups and downs is punctuated with a razor sharp blues edge from guitarist George Adams.
The only major stumbling block on This is Life is the cover of “Strawberry Letter 23.” While this Shuggie Otis-penned piece holds firm to the melodic integrity of the Brothers Johnson’s smash #1 R&B hit from 1977, some of the deep funk base is stripped and the spunk is lost in the lead vocals.
Sheffey’s biggest asset is the dedication to his craft and faithfulness to his musical vision. Weezie Productions strikes again as This is Life focuses on that musical vision. As long as Sheffey sticks to his guns, there is an excellent possibility he could be celebrating many more well-deserved anniversaries to share his soulful wares.
Other Notable Tracks: “The Love of My Life.”
Vocals: 4.0 stars
Music: 3.0 stars
Lyrics: 3.0 stars
Production: 3.0 stars
SoulTracks Call: Recommended
By Peggy Oliver