Where I Wanna Be
Donell Jones first gained attention as a songwriter and producer for such smooth urban soul groups as Usher, Silk, Brownstone, and 702, which led Babyface to sign the singer/songwriter to LaFace. His debut album was a solid R&B hit, sketching out a jazzy, soulful variation on Babyface's smooth urban-pop, which he fills in with his second album, Where I Wanna Be. On the surface of things, Jones may sound similar to a lot of his peers, but there's a greater sense of musical sophistication in his music. There are light touches of jazz, suave electric pianos, and an easy seductiveness to the entire production. Where I Wanna Be is actually a savvy update of early-'80s quiet storm -- it's a little sexier and a little sleeker, but the spirit is more reminiscent of that era than the late '90s (with the noticeable exception of Jones' tendency to oversell his vocals slightly). At times, the album relies more on style than substance, but it's crafted well, so the slips into filler aren't painful at all. Actually, the very fact that the infrequent bits of filler are enjoyable is a testament to Jones' talents as a performer and record-maker -- he knows how to deliver the weaker moments with elegance. And those moments don't arrive all that often on Where I Wanna Be. For much of the album, Jones hits the right tone -- balancing mood, song, and performance quite alluringly. It gets him and the listener where they wanna be. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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