Britton finally has released a proper full-length of new music of her
own after earning her techno and house stripes through years of
DJing. For these sessions, Cassy teamed up with house and techno
veteran King Britt to hone her productions, and it makes sense as a
pairing. King Britt has a reputation for forward-thinking soul and
house production, and it’s just the right addition to Cassy’s often
stripped down, lovelorn tracks. While Cassy’s known for her
dancefloor ear, Donna is more than just that. There are a few
downtempo cuts to break up the flow, and mostly they are a welcome
addition. Consider the loopy, minimal groove of “All I Do,” all
open hi-hats and a repetitive, upfront vocal hook — it works on its
own and yet it’s made stronger in contrast to a less functional song
like her cover of Prince’s “Strange Relationship,” wherein she
slows things down to a straight up R&B slow jam.
For all the
production’s cliches, there’s a sense of liberation in Cassy not
being slavish to the dancefloor that’s so often defined her career.
The bossa nova flavor of “Cuando” is a departure mid-album, a
curious diversion considering the more streamlined techno that
follows it in sequence. But when she’s at her very strongest, Cassy
blends an understated, almost melancholy with functional, clean,
crisp dance music, as heard on single “Feel,” the second track on
Donna and a real highlight. That same combination of elements is what
drives other highlights like “Back,” wherein Cassy’s vocals have
an unusually androgynous vibe. Elsewhere on the albm, cuts like “Move”
and “Route to Thonon” feel more straightforward, lending a
balance of functionality against Donna’s more introspective or
downtempo tracks. There’s a quiet confidence and intrigue to most of
the music on Donna, and that helps subtly set it apart from the pack.
Add to that Cassy’s own unusual voice, often floating somewhere
between a more sedate alto and an airy falsetto, and I find myself
returning to the album repeatedly. Recommended listening.
Buy it: Boomkat