Donell Jones - Lyrics

Donell Jones
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These days, it seems, practically anyone can get a hit, due to a formulaic process that has become routine: one part arrogance, a dash of sex appeal and slivers of Auto-Tune included to turn a mundane track into a mega-selling ringtone or catchy cell phone ad. Songs with subtlety and substance can be few and far between, which is why R&B fans will appreciate Donell Jones' return to the scene with his fifth studio CD, Lyrics.

These days, it seems, practically anyone can get a hit, due to a formulaic process that has become routine: one part arrogance, a dash of sex appeal and slivers of Auto-Tune included to turn a mundane track into a mega-selling ringtone or catchy cell phone ad. Songs with subtlety and substance can be few and far between, which is why R&B fans will appreciate Donell Jones' return to the scene with his fifth studio CD, Lyrics.

In the four years since the underrated Journey of a Gemini, Mr. Jones may have changed labels (he left Jive and created Candy Man Music, distributed through E1 Entertainment), but what hasn't changed is his silky-smooth croon, his hands-on approach (he wrote and produced practically the entire CD) or his propensity to spin narratives that linger long after the hook fades. He brings a variety of scenarios and emotions into play, whether he's a reformed mack trying to persuade a reluctant lady into surrendering her heart ("Love Like This") or poppin' his collar with the swaggering, bravado-filled "World Is Mine."  "All About Sex," for example, sounds like he's reducing a woman to booty-call status, but it's actually an adoring ode to the one who's so mentally and physically in-tune with Donell that they end up becoming "a dark-skinned version of Brad and Angelina, but the opposite of Ike and Tina." He takes a 180 degree turn in the slinky and scandalous "Back Door" though, describing how many ways he wants to put in work before their secret tryst ends: "He ain't even suspicious, but I don't want to break his heart since I'm sneaking in the back door....hope you're listening fellas, get it together/ cuz' I'll be that brother sneakin' in your back door."

Another racy romp, "Strip Club," features a rap cameo by Yung Joc and isn't about making it rain in the VIP lounge, but about setting the mood in the boudoir before getting down to business. Then there's the synth-laden, sinewy groove of "Imagine That," where he's advising a player to start treating his lady right before he gets a taste of his own bitter medicine: "Imagine if she crushed dudes like you crush chicks...busy when you call, don't return your messages, ball until she falls while you're taking of the kids/ ....Imagine that you're all alone and she took up with the other dude, left the dog and the kids too/And she left a letter on the couch saying you can have the house, she's in love with him and they're moving down South."

While the collection suffers from some repetitive grooves throughout, its overall polish will remind listeners of the vacuous state of what passes for R&B today and why Donell was so missed (and mimicked) in the first place. Since it contains enough edge to intrigue the younger set and enough signature stylings to make longtime fans feel at home, it won't be a problem getting into these Lyrics. 

By Melody Charles

 
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