Monday, 28 February 2011

Donald Sheffey - Between You And I - 2011

Donald Sheffey has already impressed us over recent years with sets full of real soul, mellow vibes and toe-tappers. 2011 sees another release that will not fail to make a strong impress. This twelve-tracker sees a more rounded, more confident and – dare I say – smoother Donald Sheffey. The set, entitled “Between You And I” is more than a romantic patsy – more like a deeper, vocal / musical covenant between Donald, his writers and producers and you and I, the listener. Oh, and there is dynamic here and mutual transaction. It’s obvious that Donald and the gang have put their heart and souls into this album and many tracks elicit from us warmth, joy and definitive, solid appreciation. Vocally I am still as impressed as I was on first hearing his voice; his warm, resonant vocal quivers with the timbre of either George or Louis Johnson. It’s this silkiness that makes the set a real winner. Fans of Y2K real soul will melt into the lullaby-like “For Your Love” which gets more and more essential on each play. This is independent soul that really has some solidity to it. A real treat is the slightly Latin “Gifted” with a sumptuous backing and gorgeous sax, dreamy keys and lyrics that are positive and heart-warming. Written by Soulchoonz’ very own Di-Lee and features keys from from legendary Producer Tony Camillo, and sax solo by Scott Grimaldi. If you’re tired of the drab, grey and wet weather and long for warmer days...then hit track 2 and dream along to this!

Track 3, “Good Times” with its freaky keyboards and clapping beat takes us back to the 80s again, a place where I am very comfortable indeed. The uptempo “I’m Bumping” is a twist - no pun! - on the old dance, "the bump" which was a big thing from the 50s right through to the days of Soul train. The song, fun and vibrant injects more than a little warmth, and I think that you'll really get into the bump! I am also inclined to delve into the warm pool that is “In Love”. Unashamedly romantic, Donald Sheffey reminds me, yet again, so much of one of the Brothers Johnson on vocals and the tune is akin to something that we may expect from, say, Bryan Loren. Taking on a jazzier note with a persistent metallic rolling beat, “Loving You Today” adds some real vitality and spice to the proceedings. Back in the 80s we were inundated with tracks entitled “Stepping Out” – think 10dB and George Howard for starters – and here we are again in 2011 with a slightly Housed up beat that will appeal to fans of Soulful House as well as all the Chicago Steppers out there! Fans of a funkier, 70s keyboard will like the appeal of “Take You Home” and the driving, live feel is particularly impressive. Talking of which is our tenth track, “Time Out For Love” which is immaculately structured and paced. Donald, being a proper bonafide singer is perfect on this kind of song. I would say those who don’t dig to deep may find this song twee, but if so then it may well be that one hasn’t tuned in enough. It’s a piece that plays on Donald’s nuances, his flow and the flute and live drums act as a hushed support for his ever-present vocal abilities. The set closes with its dancing shoes on and “What You Need” draws the curtains on “Between You And I” nicely. Available from March 15th!
Barry Towler
The Vibe scribe