Roberta Donnay, vocals, arrangements; Kit Walker, keyboards, programming. Other musicians include Peter Welker, Zane Musa, Henry Hung, Vernon Black; Matt Baxter; Ricardo Peixoto; Sam Bevan; Annie Stocking; David Freiberg.
Donnay is promoting this as a Jazz album, and while there are some Jazz elements, this is not a CD for Jazz purists. Donnay may like Jazz (one song relates her experience haunting Jazz clubs while underage), and has performed in some Jazz festivals, but Back Before the Why has more pop music sensibilities. It's tightly produced, I would say overproduced if you're expecting spontaneity or improvisation. The trumpet tracks are somewhat reminiscent of a muted 1980s Miles Davis, and there are a few instrumental interludes that are pleasant or interesting enough. But most of the music is of a "smooth Jazz" nature, with a synthetic and programmed feel.
Donna has a fine feminine voice, which she uses in a rather seductive style, her vocal style reminds me of Kate Bush more than anyone else. Donnay's lyrics are similarly of a seductive nature, but not much more profound than, say, Fleetwood Mac ("I don't want this night to end/Let me turn your winter into spring/I don't want this night to end/Let me give you something to believe"). Nevertheless, Donnay and her cohorts have successfully executed their style of music on this CD, and it will have its fans.
by Howard Feldstein
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