REVIEW: Donna Summer – Crayons

Image Courtesy of Burgundy Records

By: DJ Xenergy

Donna Summer has returned to the music scene with an album of completely new material on the Burgundy label. Giving fans a hint of things to come with the album’s first single, “I’m A Fire,” Donna created quite the buzz about her upcoming album, although I feel the album’s second single “Stamp Your Feet” would have been a better lead single choice. “Stamp Your Feet” is definitely an uplifting feel-good track that really makes you want to get up, dance, and yes… stamp your feet on the ground.

Donna’s new album Crayons kicks off with that track. With “Stamp’s” uptempo beat and uplifting lyrics, it really kicks off the album in a happy way. Produced by Greg Kurstin, who produced a few tracks on the album, the track also features guest Miri Ben-Ari on violin. As mentioned before, this is the second single from the album and dance remixes are forthcoming from Escape & Collucio, Jason Nevins, Ranny, and others. This is definitely one of the strongest and one of my favorite tracks from Crayons.

“Mr. Music”  is another uptempo feel-good track with Donna paying tribute to what her career has always been about – the music, Donna even pays homage to the iPod. Guess even Donna is fitting in with all things “new” in the music world.

“Crayons” follows and features a guest appearance by Ziggy Marley. This is a fun track, but I wonder if anyone will notice a similarity that I did… ‘he’s a one-stop shop, makes my cherry pop…’ the track is fun, definitely makes you move, but somewhat borders on the line of cheese.

Still though, it’s Donna Summer, are you going to hate it? Well so far, no tracks on the album are ones I would skip over.   Donna Summer will forever be known as the queen of disco. On the album’s fourth track, she hails “The Queen Is Back.”  Although an upbeat groove, it’s the slower of the tracks thus far. J.R. Rotem produced this track and this is another favorite of mine on the album. Now you know the queen is back!”Fame (The Game)” is, for me, the first song on the album that I don’t particularly care for. I’m not sure if it’s just her pronunciation of the words fame and game, or what, but something about this track makes it unlistenable to me. The production on the track is good, the verses are cute, but the chorus does make me cringe a little. Moving on…

“Sand On My Feet” is the set’s first ballad. I’ve always felt Donna’s strong point have been her uptempo dance tracks. Not saying all her ballads are bad, but to me, her voice is much better suited for an uptempo number. “Sand On My Feet” is a pretty track, and I don’t feel the need the skip over it. I guess what I’m trying to say that for a Donna Summer ballad, it’s okay. Not great, but okay.

Surprisingly, the next track is probably my favorite of the album. “Drivin’ Down Brazil” has such a cute latin flavor, and for one of the more downtempo cuts, it’s so catchy. Definitely not a ballad, just more of a downtempo fun, groovy track that really makes you smile. I am not certain I would want dance mixes of this one, I really love it just the way it is.

Sebastian Arocha Morton produces the album’s next cut, the first single “I’m A Fire.” Before getting a copy of the album, I had only listened to the remixes of this track. Honestly, I didn’t really care for the mixes or the song itself. After hearing the original album version, very uptempo with a somewhat disco vibe, I’ve changed my mind. Although it’s not my favorite from the album, the album version I really enjoy. Just goes to show that some songs, dance songs or otherwise, are better in their original form, and although I usually prefer a remix over an original version, with “I’m A Fire” that is not the case.

“Slide Over Backwards” comes next. And the beat is very funky… VERY funky. Something about this track is very Prince-esque. Almost sounds like something he would do. The track is fun & delightful and features guest Hattie Mae Blanche Dubois, Produced by Nathan DiGesare and recorded in Nashville, “Slide Over Backwards” is another favorite for me.

Here comes the vocoder. Ever since Cher’s “Believe” it seems someone is always throwing in a little vocoder effect. “Science of Love” is a great pop song. Produced by Toby Gad, I could hear this as a radio hit and it’s been awhile since Donna has had one. Of all the tracks on the album, I feel this one has the best radio potential.

“Be Myself Again” is the album’s second ballad. Wow. I’m quite impressed and have to say the track is beautiful. Very simple, and the piano is adorable. Donna’s voice sounds amazing on this one. The is my second favorite track on “Crayons.” Where I felt “Sand On My Feet” was just an okay ballad, “Be Myself Again” is perfection.

The album closes with “Bring Down The Reign.” Again featured is Miri Ben-Ari on violin as well as the Agape Childrens Choir. Another downtempo cut compared to most of the album’s upbeat tracks, this is a nice song to close the album. Not one of my favorites, but I like this one too, of course. It’s a positive moving track. Something Donna has often delivered in her music, positivity.

Overall, Donna has delivered a great pop/dance record. I’m afraid Donna will never have the commercial success she had back in the 70s and 80s, but I’m thrilled that we finally have an album of all new material from the queen, and that it’s really good. All the tracks I enjoy with the exception of “Fame (The Game).” As previously mentioned my favorites are “Drivin’ Down Brazil” and “Be Myself Again.” Of the dance numbers, “Stamp Your Feet” is my favorite, Congrats to Donna for delivering a great new record. The queen is definitely back and she’s going to make you S-T-A-M-P… stamp your feet on the ground!

Released May 20, 2008 on Burgundy Records

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