Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Lyrics is the sixth studio album by R&B singer-songwriter Donell Jones. It was released on September 28, 2010 through E1 Music. The lead single from the album is "Love Like This", which has peaked at #25 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart. The album debuted at #5 on Billboard's Independent Albums chart and #9 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #22 on the Billboard 200.
"These days, it seems, practically anyone can get a hit, due to a formulaic process that has become routine: one part arrogance, a dash of sex appeal and slivers of Auto-Tune included to turn a mundane track into a mega-selling ringtone or catchy cell phone ad. Songs with subtlety and substance can be few and far between, which is why R&B fans will appreciate Donell Jones' return to the scene with his fifth studio CD, Lyrics.
In the four years since the underrated Journey of a Gemini, Mr. Jones may have changed labels (he left Jive and created Candy Man Music, distributed through E1 Entertainment), but what hasn't changed is his silky-smooth croon, his hands-on approach (he wrote and produced practically the entire CD) or his propensity to spin narratives that linger long after the hook fades. He brings a variety of scenarios and emotions into play, whether he's a reformed mack trying to persuade a reluctant lady into surrendering her heart ("Love Like This") or poppin' his collar with the swaggering, bravado-filled "World Is Mine." "All About Sex," for example, sounds like he's reducing a woman to booty-call status, but it's actually an adoring ode to the one who's so mentally and physically in-tune with Donell that they end up becoming "a dark-skinned version of Brad and Angelina, but the opposite of Ike and Tina." He takes a 180 degree turn in the slinky and scandalous "Back Door" though, describing how many ways he wants to put in work before their secret tryst ends: "He ain't even suspicious, but I don't want to break his heart since I'm sneaking in the back door....hope you're listening fellas, get it together/ cuz' I'll be that brother sneakin' in your back door."
Another racy romp, "Strip Club," features a rap cameo by Yung Joc and isn't about making it rain in the VIP lounge, but about setting the mood in the boudoir before getting down to business. Then there's the synth-laden, sinewy groove of "Imagine That," where he's advising a player to start treating his lady right before he gets a taste of his own bitter medicine: "Imagine if she crushed dudes like you crush chicks...busy when you call, don't return your messages, ball until she falls while you're taking of the kids/ ....Imagine that you're all alone and she took up with the other dude, left the dog and the kids too/And she left a letter on the couch saying you can have the house, she's in love with him and they're moving down South."
While the collection suffers from some repetitive grooves throughout, its overall polish will remind listeners of the vacuous state of what passes for R&B today and why Donell was so missed (and mimicked) in the first place. Since it contains enough edge to intrigue the younger set and enough signature stylings to make longtime fans feel at home, it won't be a problem getting into these Lyrics." - Soultracks
"Donell Jones's self-produced sixth album, Lyrics, has a lot to treasure. The signature silky vocals are consistently come-hither, and the subject is so elementarily sex-focused - but rather than a soulless recreation of what he's been doing since late-90s hit U Know What's Up, it's an enticing and still-current LP.
Subject-wise, it doesn't stray too far from blush-inducing, unadulterated filth. But that's comforting rather than not, apart from when Jones' mother introduces Your Place with the immortal words "Give them some of that Chicago-style RnB I brought you up on" - before the chorus strikes with its "Can we do it in your place baby" refrain. The spoken pre-ambles recur too, but less humorously - it's entirely unnecessary to introduce the album with a "Yo, it's your boy D. Jones / The rebirth of hip hop and RnB" foreword.
Jones' impressively suave soft touch, soulful backing and bedroom vocals don't require these self-justificatory mixtape-style intros. What's Next, for example, sounds like the trajectory Usher should've followed - and the production is warm and luxurious. More unfittingly, Jones selflessly gives away one of Lyrics' 13 songs to Breeze - he isn't even present on You Can Burn ("I usually don't do this but I got to introduce y'all to Breeze). The song's incisive Timbaland-style verses are brilliant, a tease for what can be achieved with a more liberal mind on production; but he's gone too far on being benevolent.
When the Chicago-born singer does take centre-stage, he juxtaposes overconfidence with shyness to great effect - each through the microscope he's created. His 'type' swings the pendulum between heinous chauvinist (see Blackmail's flat-lined sneaking-out-the-mistress bragging) and changed man (on Love Like This). But to criticise Lyrics for being unsubtle would be to miss the point - this is an album styled on caricatures, with strong tunes. Whether it's touches like the soaring harmonies on Just a Little's chorus, the decided lack of big-name guests or the idea of a lothario being occasionally crushed, Jones is clever and sleek enough to pull this album off. Through slamming slap bass, masterful slow-grind and clear-cut self-obsession, Lyrics is a unified hip hop-tinged RnB mainstay, familiar without the distasteful nostalgia, and heavy on infectious beats." - BBC
Photographer: Derek Blanks.
A 2007 best-of compilation tied a bow around Donell Jones' four-album, decade-long spell on LaFace. It took three years for the singer to resurface with his own label (supported by eOne), and while he returns with an independent release featuring little in the way of star-power support -- Yung Joc guests, Mike City produces one track, and that's about it -- the majority of it convincingly picks up where 2006's Journey of a Gemini left off. Jones has nothing to prove nor to lose, and that's the way this album sounds. He writes, plays, and produces most of the material and gets only a small amount of instrumental assistance. The probing "Imagine That" and "Blackmail," along with delicate-but-durable slow jams like "Love Like This" and "The Finer Things in Life," will be enough to please Jones' followers. That said, when it comes to the two dance-pop detours, one of which features a lead vocal from Jones' niece, the jury could be out until album number six. ~ Andy Kellman