Donald Shaw - Made in Motown (2007)

Donald Shaw
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Made In Motown is the new CD from urban contemporary vocalist Donald Shaw.  With a title that betrays the fact the album was recorded not far from the Detroit home of the legendary Motown brand, it also re-enforces the connection between the sumptuous vibe so indicative of Motown Records' golden era and that which Shaw emulates with apparent ease.  That said, this is not a collection of retrospectives.  Substantially co-written by Shaw and a range of collaborators it provides fifteen original compositions that can be best described as ‘new look old school'.  This hugely appealing album is further enhanced by significant instrumental contributions from Greg Dokes on keys, the legendary Al Turner on bass and Lenny Price with sax.  Additionally, the backing vocals of Rosemere Matthews, Roseann Matthews and Shaw himself are never anything short of exceptional.  In fact, from beginning to end, Made In Motown is an absolute joy with some real standouts buried within.
Made In Motown is the new CD from urban contemporary vocalist Donald Shaw.  With a title that betrays the fact the album was recorded not far from the Detroit home of the legendary Motown brand, it also re-enforces the connection between the sumptuous vibe so indicative of Motown Records' golden era and that which Shaw emulates with apparent ease.  That said, this is not a collection of retrospectives.  Substantially co-written by Shaw and a range of collaborators it provides fifteen original compositions that can be best described as ‘new look old school'.  This hugely appealing album is further enhanced by significant instrumental contributions from Greg Dokes on keys, the legendary Al Turner on bass and Lenny Price with sax.  Additionally, the backing vocals of Rosemere Matthews, Roseann Matthews and Shaw himself are never anything short of exceptional.  In fact, from beginning to end, Made In Motown is an absolute joy with some real standouts buried within.

Shaw's blend of mellow, sexy soul of the quiet storm variety is everywhere and particularly so with ‘You Got That Kinda Love' and the equally sensuous ‘Smile Again'.  Here Lenny Price on sax really makes an impression and again comes up big for ‘How Can It Be'.  First with his intro and then again with an outstanding solo he turns this emotionally charged gem into a tune with the potential to cross-over into the realms of urban jazz.  While maybe not as radio ready, but certainly in similar vein, is the haunting simplicity of the romantic ‘Let Me Be The One'.  With ‘My Forever Love,' Shaw puts a hip and contemporary twist to the kind of sweet seduction music that Alexander O'Neil previously made into an art form and for ‘How Can I Win Your Love Back' he delivers a big soulful ballad made memorable by its repetitive and hypnotic chorus.

Both ‘Just In The Nick Of Time' and the street savvy ‘Be My Lady', where Darmel Moore provides an edgy rap, demonstrate Shaw as quite able to ratchet up the tempo.  Although with ‘Don't You Want To Dance' he engenders an enticing steppin' groove and produces another potential dance floor filler with ‘Ain't No Turning Back,' he is arguably at his best when handling mid tempo chillers.  He takes his time in building the slow burning ‘I Never Felt Like This Before' to incredible effect and indeed does romantic ballads as well as anyone.  A case in point is the wonderful ‘On My Way'.  With infectious hooks and a sumptuous arrangement it really is a contender for best track on the album.  And the catchy yet mellow ‘If I Knew Then' sums up the velvety mood of the entire CD.  All that being said, a personal favourite is ‘While We're Still Friends'.  Roseann Matthews, whose tones are evocative of vintage Anita Baker, steps up to share the spotlight with Shaw and ensure unequivocally that this romantic duet checks all the right boxes of new urban contemporary music.

Denis Poole, http://www.smoothjazztherapy.com/

 
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