Personnel: Cassy Britton (vocals).
Donna was recorded over the course of several years, a period that entailed personal upheaval and two relocations -- from Berlin to Los Angeles, then from Los Angeles to Philadelphia -- for Cassy Britton. In Philly, she linked with King Britt, who co-produced most of the tracks. Familiarity with Britt's earlier deep house and later machine soul output (as Fhloston Paradigm) makes his contributions easy to discern. In one way or another, however, Donna always sounds like Cassy, especially so on lean yet deep dancefloor mutations like "Feel," "Back," "Route to Thonon," and "What If." A couple of these cuts make her excellent self-released 12" from 2006 seem primitive. This being the first album from a DJ who has been releasing functional club singles for over a decade, Britton takes the opportunity to stretch out, as in the quasi-bossa nova "Cuando" and the loose disco-funk number "Without You." Much less expected is a bittersweet cover of Prince's "Strange Relationship." Featuring instrumentation from Damon Bennett and Chuck Treece, a couple of Britt's fellow Philly vets, it's handled with unforced flair and is a highlight. The downside is that, from a compositional standpoint, it easily surpasses everything else on the album. Comparatively, the other tracks on which Britton's slightly spooky voice is heard are less songs than they are productions with vocals. Almost no living songwriter can be expected to contend with Prince, but the song's presence here is an ill fit. ~ Andy Kellman