Okay — to call this debut by Toledo, Ohio’s Chavar Dontae “local” might be a bit of a stretch (I once caught some flak for classifying the Glass City as Fort Wayne’s farthest-flung suburb), but it’s not like he’s mailing it in from NYC or something. No, by no means is Dontae mailing anything in with One of Those Days, an EP that bursts at the seams with easy grooves and smoky, sinuous soul … while still managing to hold onto its indie credibility. It’s a cool, accessible, uncluttered, and very real-sounding. So much “modern” R&B (at least on the mass scale) has become all about image and vocal athleticism instead of relying on the solid songwriting and earthy soul that helped to birth rock n’ roll and make the 60s soar. One of Those Days supplies the antidote, albeit in a bite-sized, simplified package. You won’t hear any window-shattering high notes or overproduced beats here; it’s all fairly organic and wholly inviting. The opener, “Slow Down,” pulses with a G. Love-style combination of funky groove and laid-back style, like cruising some old-school Detroit iron with just a toe on the gas. “So Right” floats along on clean guitar strums, rocking steady underneath Dontae’s blissed out chorus of “You are so right for me.” It’s unabashed good times.
The outset of “Friends” veers dangerously close to recalling “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” before settling into a smooth and, well, friendly groove. Dontae’s flawed, vintage Prince-meets-Kravitz croon, flitting in and out of falsetto, becomes more interesting on each spin; this EP takes a little living with to get under your skin, but the patient listener is rewarded. The slow burn of “What’s Your Name” doesn’t go to R. Kelly lengths to make its point; it’s much more gentlemanly in its approach (“I wanna know your sign / and your mind / I wanna chill with you”). The lilting guitar and lyrical sunshine on the title track of this short-player might just salvage a blue mood if you let it. Go to myspace.com/chavar or www.chavardontae.com for more information.
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