The Colored Section
Boy, it seems like an eternity ago when I saw India.Arie open up for this guy at the old Cotton Club in Atlanta. Actually, it was 1999. Well, we all know what happened to India in the interim. And, while his “protege” has been blowing up globally, Donnie has been quietly growing that underground soul vibe and crafting this impressive debut.
The other thing that has changed since ’99 for Donnie is his main influence. Back then, I thought he was way too heavily influenced by Donny Hathaway. Now, it’s Stevie Wonder. There are times when listening to The Colored Section when you’ll think it’s spelled T-a-l-k-i-n-g B-o-o-k (I mean, “People Person” sounds exactly like “Ebony Eyes”). And, while there’s still a bit of Donny in Donnie and an inkling of Marvin Gaye, sometimes this disc is so Stevie you wonder how the man can channel someone who’s still alive.
It does grate at times, but Donnie is an immensely talented vocalist. There’s not much nu to his soul, but the man’s got soul to spare. That tradition that the vast majority of contemporary R&B has forgotten bubbles out of your speaker with Donnie. Like I said with Remy Shand, if you’re going to emulate anyone it should definitely be the best. And, since Donnie does exactly that (like D’Angelo does Prince), The Colored Section is definitely one of the best, new R&B albums I’ve heard in awhile.
Giant Step Records: http://www.giantstep.net