Everyone is on a journey these days. Reality show contestants, musicians, athletes — ask them about their lives, and that word will come up, maybe more than once. So when someone releases an album called Journey, and they’re not in the band Journey, you’d have every right to be skeptical. But when Douye sings it on the title track of her new jazzy R&B album, it doesn’t sound half bad. Her clear, smoky voice helps you overlook a few pedestrian lines about destiny and shining stars and just hum along.
The fact that this isn’t a loud, brassy album is part of its virtue. Douye doesn’t have the bravado of Alicia Keys or the exploding passion of Anita Baker. She does share those singers’ affinity for updating a classic soulful sound, but Douye’s quiet, almost delicate confidence has more in common with Allison Krauss. “Cold Wind Blows,” with its simple arrangement and gently arpeggiating guitar, would fit neatly in Krauss’ set list. Douye’s voice flirts with the muted trumpet that winds through several tracks, a good foil for her scoops and glides effortlessly along. Even her ballad of love scorned, “Walk Away,” is more wistful than accusatory.
Douye wrote these eleven tracks with Terry Shaddick, best known for penning the Olivia Newton-John hit “Physical.” It’s clear the two wrote to showcase Douye’s voice more than the songs themselves. Many of them are pleasant but disposable, and Douye makes them sound better than perhaps they really are. But that’s also a function of the songs’ simplicity — sometimes when you’re aiming for simple, you hit ordinary. If Douye and Shaddick continue their partnership, it might be worth watching. Journey isn’t flashy, but not because Douye hasn’t found her voice. It’s where she goes from here that counts.
Review By: Nick A Zaino III[Rating: 3/5]