It’s not easy being a pretty boy. Sure you’ve got thousands of girls hyperventilating at your concerts, but it’s almost impossible to get music critics to take you seriously. Plus, all those screaming girls probably have boyfriends, all of which secretly want to punch you in the face. Call it hating or an inevitable conclusion, but it’s very rare for a pretty boy to grow up into a highly respected man (in recent memory only Justin Timberlake’s pulled it off). It’s far more likely that the pretty boy gets his perfect face plastered on the …
DJBooth Album Review
Colby O’Donis knows all about the struggles of being a pretty boy looking for credibility. The twenty-year-old O’Donis has been a musical prodigy since he could form full sentences, spending his young life perfecting the art form that is modern r&b/pop, becoming a well-schooled musician in the process. While Colby’s prowess around a guitar certainly played a large part in Akon signing him to the Konvict family – Akon’s taken to calling him a “secret weapon” - it couldn’t have hurt that O’Donis has the fawning eyes and perfectly gelled hair of a teen sensation. Now comes his debut album, the unfortunately named Colby O, an album that already places the young Colby at a career crossroads: make the right choices and he has the talent to become the next JT, make the wrong choices and he’ll be spending the next five years doing Scream tours with Donnie Klang.
Any discussion of Colby O has to start with What You Got, the pulsingly harmonized single that catapulted Colby onto radio waves from coast to coast. It’s no surprise that Akon has crafted What You Got into a hit, his mastery of the catchy chorus is rivaled only by T-Pain, so let’s turn our attention to Colby himself. What You Got is actually one of Colby’s least impressive vocal performances on the album; on the track his never powerful voice sounds almost hesitant, as if he was more focused on not messing up a sure hit than killing the track. Still, dropping a hit single is no small accomplishment, and if he’s going to have another it may just be Let You Go, a slow ballad reminiscent of Chris Brown’s With You. Colby has more space to shine over Let You Go’s more muted production, finally displaying a unique voice. On the whole Colby O spends a lot of time in Let You Go territory, a place you’re definitely willing to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live in.
Not all of Colby O lives in such a musical middle ground, for better or worse it moves significantly in both directions of the album quality spectrum. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Take You Away is an unfortunate track not only because it inexplicably injects an almost country twang into an otherwise straightforward r&b track, but also because Lil Romeo shows up as a guest feature. Really? You’ve got four guest features on your album and Lil Romeo is one of them? Really? It’s a similar story on The Difference, the most dramatic slow jam on the project. Throughout the album Colby maintains the same whisper soft voice, and while your Mario or Trey Songz would have gotten the f**k down to The Difference, Colby’s soulfulness barely registers. On the bright side, Colby truly shines when he’s allowed to display the full range of his talents. Under My Nose takes a soft guitar line and adds some clapping percussion, creating the type of pop-tinged song that could live forever in the guilty pleasure hall of fame, if it weren’t for the atrocious song title (Under My Nose?) Even better is Follow You, a track that adds a little sex appeal to Mr. O’Donis’ repertoire. Here his soft voice works perfectly over the muted Timbaland-esque beat, and thankfully tracks like these are more than enough to give us hope for Colby’s future.
The album may be self-titled, but even after listening to Colby O we don’t really know who Colby O’Donis is, other than the man filling out the pop/r&b position in Akon’s roster. Here’s hoping that O’Donis spends until the next album finding his own voice, because if he does we might have a special on our hands. If not, then he’ll unfortunately end up like so many pretty boys before him, just another crush America eventually tires of.
DJBooth Rating - 3 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 09/24/08
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