DON-E: Natural (Label: Dome)

DON-E: Natural

Don-E (Mclean) has been around since the nineties but despite some success with stuff like ‘Love Makes The World Go Round’ he’s still something of a well-kept secret. Now though, with soul specialists Dome behind him, things should change, ‘cos with ‘Natural’ he’s crafted an excellent and varied modern soul album that’s already started to make considerable waves in the all-important American market… chiefly because this sounds like an American album. Let’s face it, our Stateside cousins, despite mumbled brotherly love epithets, still think we Brits can’t “do soul“. Here Don-E proves conclusively that we can and I can pay him no greater compliment than to repeat that ‘Natural’ sounds very, very American. Our man has tuned into a vibe and mined it for all it’s worth. For starters there are lots of delicious modern soul dancers that will please shufflers on both sides of the Atlantic. ‘Kool’, ‘Get Off’, ‘Stay Awhile’ and ‘Writing’s On The Wall’ are four standouts in that department. Crisp and neat, they’ll set feet tapping anywhere and the latter (featuring Keisha Buchanan) is pop-soul of the highest order. There’s plenty too for those with more adventurous ears. The opener, ‘Addictive Luv’, for instance is a quirky electro item while ‘Hola At Me’ is garnished with the Caribbean flavours that surrounded the singer’s childhood. The there’s ‘Drive’ – a ballad that Prince would be proud of, while sticking with the slowies the duet with Mutya Buena, ‘The Time Is Now’, shows how both have developed as soul stylists. Then there’s the cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Waiting In Vain’. Like all good cover versions, this one throws out the familiar template and re-builds the song in a new style – a soul ballad, would you believe … while for something very different try the LP’s title cut. ‘Natural’ is loose and jazzy and has a similar feel to the in-demand ‘So Cold’ – an old song that Don-E cut a few years back with Stuart Zender. The cut leaked out and gained notoriety chiefly because D’Angelo plays keys on it. Now you can officially hear it and yes, it is good, but only one of many good cuts on a mature and varied modern soul set.
(BB) 4/5