That's My Jam

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Donna Summer – Crayons [Reviews]

Posted by ThatsMyJamRadio on August 11, 2010

Hearing Donna Summer’s name will evoke recognition of songs such as ’70s disco classics “Bad Girls” and “Last Dance,” and, to a lesser extent, genre- and decade-transcending hits such as “She Works Hard for the Money” and “This Time I Know It’s for Real.” Additionally, the Queen of Disco will instantly be respected for her contributions to dance music, but rarely for any other efforts outside of her ’70s stardom. That may change with her attempt at the contemporary, Crayons.

For her first studio album since the 1991’s Mistaken Identity, Summer treks into territory unexpected of her, yet embraces modern electronica elements that are her bread and butter, for a compilation that could easily see its singles play next to many of today’s top hits. “Stamp Your Feet,” the opening track, appropriately fuses trance-y atmospherics with drumline-driven chanting into a party-starter that can’t decide if it should be played in a hip-hop or dance club, but never has indecisiveness been such ear candy.

“Mr. Music” is a modern version of Indeep’s “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life,” only this time around Summer personifies and celebrates her love for music rather than thanking the man who spins it. The set’s title track features a guest appearance by Ziggy Marley and displays a hybrid reggae/club record that hasn’t been heard since Max-A-Million’s hits, “Fat Boy” and “Sexual Healing.” The G-funk-like piano and bass line on “The Queen is Back” may confuse listeners as to whether or not Dr. Dre had a hand in its production, but the anthemic cut reminds listeners of Summer’s longevity and her importance in the industry, with evidence that few of Dre’s protégés can boast.

The ubiquitous T-Pain ― surprisingly ― does not make an appearance on the album, but a sound-alike makes his ever-present voice effects heard on “Science of Love,” a track that convincingly dips into Summer’s rock side. Somewhat melodically similar to Janet Jackson’s “Rock with U” yet full of acoustics, “I’m a Fire,” the album’s lead single, showcases the more powerhouse side of Summer’s vocals that are made the circuit-friendly track a hit in clubs around the world. Replacing synthesizers for acoustics, “Sands on My Feet” is Summer’s somewhat raspy contribution to the “urban guitar” jams that have filled airwaves in the form of Chris Brown’s “With You” and Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable.”

Summer gets real country on “Slide Over Backwards,” another raspy-voiced cut that would effortlessly win over Macy Gray. For an empowerment ballad, look no further than “Be Myself Again,” in which she opens up to the vulnerabilities of being liked as someone else, rather than being hated as herself.

Summer has indeed added some new hues to her repertoire and the result is a disc of unexpected treats. Though there are some moments where it’s hard to buy Summer getting contemporary with her material, there are many more in which the uninitiated could easily confuse her with her competition on the radio ― most of whom were probably born after Summer was crowned the Queen of Disco.

That’s My Jam’s Rating:
5. Get It Now
4. Get It On Sale
3. Get It As a Gift
2. Get It To a CD Exchange Store
1. Don’t Get It At All

Track List:
1. “Stamp Your Feet”
2. “Mr. Music”
3. “Crayons” feat. Ziggy Marley
4. “The Queen is Back”
5. “Fame (The Game)”
6. “Sand on My Feet”
7. “Drivin’ Down Brazil”
8. “I’m A Fire”
9. “Slide Over Backwards”
10. “Science of Love”
11. “Be Myself Again”
12. “Bring Down the Reign”

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