Donell Jones⎪ Forever ⎪eOne Music⎪⎪ US Release Date: July 09, 2013
R&B singer/songwriter Donell Jones never quite achieved the same commercial success of his contemporaries, but he’s continued releasing albums, since 1996’s My Heart mind you whether on a major (LaFace) or independent label (eOne). His sixth album, Forever, arrives timely from Jones’s perspective, after a three-year hiatus. Over it’s course, Jones oscillates between adult contemporary R&B and, well, more modern, contemporary R&B.
On standout “Closer I Get To You”, Jones’s vocals are hushed and easygoing, but he still delivers his message (“Uh, it’s the closer I get to you / it’s so hard to be away from you”). On the ‘grown-folks R&B’ of “Beautiful”, his gentlemanly qualities shines: “…the girl thought I was into her beauty and not her mind / but it’s everything about her that keeps this brother in line…” Wow Donell, that’s real classy man! Don’t get it twisted, Donell Jones wants to ensure his gangsta side shows as well (gotta keep it 100).
On “You Know”, chopped-n-screwed (pitch shifted) vocals carry the recurrent line “I want it all the time / sex on my mind…”, atop slightly more modern contemporary R&B production. Quite a bit more shallow from the more poetic “Beautiful”. On “Ride This”, it’s pretty obvious what he’s referring to… he means business – like ‘tha bizness’ aka in the bedroom, or elsewhere, who am I to judge? He’s most foul on “Step The F**k Off”, laced with profanities featuring most prominently the beloved f-bomb. “Girl I’m scared of you, so step the f**k off / mistaking sh*t you tryin’ to do / so step the f**k off…” But of course he cleans things up with tracks like the thoughtful “I Miss The King” (an ode to Michael Jackson), “Sorry I Hurt You” (an apology for messing things up, girlllll), and “A Mother’s Love” (you know every male urban artist love they mama).
So how does it stack up, my sometimes odd and awkward sense of humor aside? Forever is a good album, but not an exceptional one. There is never the feeling here that Jones has reinvented R&B nor that he’s truly going for that. But, given his career, isn’t that kind of how he’s rolled over the years? Sometimes his undertone vocally is a bit of a detraction, mainly because of a combination of having to fight the production and a rhythmic vocal delivery. But for the most part, its a solid R&B effort. It likely won’t be remembered a year or maybe even the next few months, but not many albums are these days.