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The Daily News

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Album Review

It's just as well that Donnie's connections with Motown were short-lived. If the label didn't know what to do with The Colored Section, how would they handle an album that is more modern gospel than it is throwback soul — one with a complete lack of songs for the bedroom and club? They might've refused to release it anyway, what with song titles like "Suicide" and "Atlanta Child Murders." Listening to the whole thing reveals a marketing nightmare: songs about the war on drugs and the pharmaceutical industry, Hurricane Katrina, unemployment, slavery, pedophilia, and the weariness that comes with the inevitable daily bombardment of bad news. You really can't spin that into something resembling a good time, or something to passively enjoy while waiting for the bus. A frustrated, mad, and at times flat-out pissed-off album, The Daily News nonetheless has the ability to make you glad you are alive. What prevents the lyrical content from being a drag is that it is razor sharp, cloaked in funky modern gospel grooves that are advanced and vigorous. The choruses, typically featuring Donnie and only one other voice, are probably massive enough to fill out a superchurch, but they are never bulky or overcooked. "Impatient People" is a cyclonic opener, containing squelching synthesizers, sliding Slave-like bass, and scratching guitar, all twisted into a ball of dumbfounded frustration: "I'm not a refugee/I'm an evacuee/I'm just a citizen/Can I get some assistance?" Working itself into a similarly taut rhythm, "Atlanta Child Murders" is the album's most moving and pointed song, introduced with the sounds of flowing water and playing children before developing into a gloriously infuriated stomp that glistens and whomps: "The Atlanta child murders conspiracy/Was a modern-day lynching like Tuskegee/A political prisoner Wayne Williams is/Scientific experiment on our kids." "Over-the-Counter Culture," sounding like a strutting cross between Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" and "Black Man," draws a thick circle around a great double standard: "Every time I go to the doctor/He be puttin' me on prescription/He don't be hangin' out on no corner/He's a professional pusher and America is his supplier." As with The Colored Section, Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder parallels still apply, especially if you can imagine them collaborating with Eugene McDaniels, Gil Scott-Heron, and Les McCann. Despite the lack of flag waving and ass kicking, this is as American — and progressive — as modern music gets.

Biography

Born: Lexington, KY

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s

The smooth style of modern day soul singer Donnie is comparable to such other similar sounding artists as Macy Gray, Jill Scott, Seal, and Maxwell. Born in Lexington, Kentucky during the mid '70s, Donnie was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and came from a very religious family (both of his parents were ministers). Singing for a choir at an early age, Donnie soon expanded his musical horizons, as he became influenced equally by such gospel artists as Walter Hawkins and Mahalia Jackson plus such soul/R...
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The Daily News, Donnie
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