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4.0 stars

When my husband handed me “Crayons,” Donna Summer’s first album with all new material in over 17 years, I had a big smile on my face. I am not afraid to admit that I listened to Donna Summer when I was younger and still do. “Bad Girls” is a great CD to listen to when you are power walking around the lake. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to get but after listening to the first track “Stamp your feet” I really liked this song. What a way to start a CD! I wasn’t really sure if I was being unbiased, so I got my teenage daughter (Sara) to listen to the first track. Of course she had a pout on her face because I was asking her to do something (that wasn’t her own idea) but shortly after putting on my headphones she was bopping around and I didn’t think she was going to give my headphones back… Since then I have listened to the balance of the CD.

When “Mr. Music” started, I didn’t really know that it did. The transition between “Stamp Your Feet” and “Mr. Music” is minimal. At first didn’t realize that it was a different song. But don’t think this song can’t stand on its own merit, because it can, (“Mr. Music” just happens to be the personal favorite of my two daughters.) This was not the problem however, with the next song since “Crayons” completely switched directions with the reggae feel of the title song. Ziggy Marley helps out on this song and it is well done. By the time I got to this song, I was really enjoying this CD. It hasn’t stop hitting yet. All the songs so far are upbeat and make you want to move your body and put a smile on your face.

I must mention that I didn’t read the cover notes (on purpose). I wanted to read them after I listened to the CD at least once (how about 5 times) to make an educated evaluation. “The Queen is Back” is a totally awesome song and the whole time I was listening, I was thinking if she didn’t write this song, she should have because it sounds autobiographical. I have since found out that she co-wrote all the songs on the CD. Awesome! She can sing and write! Way to go Donna!

“Sand On My Feet” slows down the pace a bit and has a bit of a folksy/bluesy feel but you can still get your groove on. It makes me think of tropical beaches for some reason… And she switches gears again with “Drivn’ Down Brazil” with the Latin flavor. At this point, I started to think this is an all over the world CD. As I listened to “Crayons,” I felt like I was in flight around the world touching down here and there -- Brazil, Africa, Hollywood, Mississippi and NYC… (I wonder where it will take you…) The genres of music that must have touched Donna during the years all seem to be encompassed into “Crayons”… and I like everything about it. I like variety in my music, and every time I try to stay with one sound or one genre to make a playlist, it never happens. I guess that is why I like “Crayons,” from one song to the next, you’ll never know what you will get. With so many people trying to be one-dimensional but most people aren’t, so why should their music be. There is so much soul involved and you can feel her spirit floating through your speakers or headphones leaving her essence in your mind.

“I’m a Fire”, the next song on this release makes me think of runway supermodels. Don’t know why, I can’t tell you. Listen to it and you tell me. “Slide over Backwards” definitely has a country feel like a juke joint. It has a funky beat and is reminiscent of an old Ike and Tina song… In fact, her voice reminds me of Tina’s voice on this one. The next song “Science of Love,” is a techno ditty with a traditional theme… Loving someone who doesn’t reciprocate but keeps you hanging on…. A ballad doesn’t show its face on the record until the eleventh track with “Be Myself Again.” I have listened to this song a few times… It has a haunting tone and the lyrics keep bringing images of “Sympathy for the Devil” by the ROLLING STONES. Although the two songs dynamically sound completely different but the pace and some of the words keep me thinking about “Sympathy for the Devil’ playing in the background while this song is in the foreground. And when you think about the lyrics, it really works. Especially when you hear the line, “…What I gained and what it cost…” so Devil… lost Soul… very haunting and subliminal…

Overall, this is a great release from Donna and if you were a fan, you shouldn’t be disappointed, and if you’re not a fan, “Crayons” should be the release to get you on track. Donna really crossed the genres, and the ages to bring us this latest release. Even though it took years to hear something new from Donna, “Crayons” was well worth the wait. And yes, it is in my car, part of my 6-disc rotation.

Band Lineup:
  • Donna Summer - Vocals, Backing Vocals
  • Greg Kurstin - All Instruments (Stamp your Feet, Crayons, Drivin' Down Brazil)
  • Danielle Brisbois - Additional Backing Vocals (Crayons)
  • J. R. Rotem - All Instruments (The Queen Is Back, Mr. Music)
  • Miri Ben-Ari - Violins (Stamp Your Feet, Bring Down the Reign)
  • Toby Gad - All Instruments (Fame (The Game), Sand on my Feet, Science Of Love)
  • Francisco "Pancho" Tomacelli - Bass (I'm A Fire)
  • Robert "Crit" Castillo - Guitars (I'm A Fire)
  • Davey Chegwidden - Percussion (I'm A Fire)
  • Jenny Berggren - Backing Vocals (Slide Over Backwards)
  • Mary Gaines Bernard - Backing Vocals (Slide Over Backwards)
  • Nathan DiGesare - Keyboard Programming (Slide Over Backwards)
  • Jakob Petren - Keyboard Programming (Slide Over Backwards)
  • Tom Hemby - Steel Guitar, Electric Guitar, Harmonica (Slide Over Backwards)
  • Angelo Pertucci - Acoustic Guitar (Slide Over Backwards)
  • Nathan DiGesare II - Clav (Slide Over Backwards)
  • Fred Kron - Ketboards & Synth bass (Bring Down the Reign)
  • Jamie Houston -Percussion (Bring Down the Reign)
  • Iki Levy -Percussion (Bring Down the Reign)
  • Charles Waddhams - Bass (Bring Down the Reign)
  • Agape Children's Choir - Backing Vocals (Bring Down the Reign)
  • Jamie Houston - Backing Vocals (Bring Down the Reign)
  • Josue Sejour - Backing Vocals (Bring Down the Reign)
  • Bruce Sudano - Backing Vocals (Bring Down the Reign)


Track Listing:
  1. Stamp Your Feet
  2. Mr. Music
  3. Crayons featuring Ziggy Marley
  4. The Queen is Back
  5. Fame ( The Game)
  6. Sand On My Feet
  7. Drivin’ Down Brazil
  8. I’m A Fire
  9. Slide Over Backwards
  10. Science Of Love
  11. Be Myself Again
  12. Bring Down The Reign


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