Donna Regina: Slow Killer
Karaoke Kalk

Cologne-based electro-pop duo Donna Regina and Günther Janssen (abetted by the DJ and sample talents of Steffen Irlinger) follow up 2003's Late with ten new songs on its fourth album (not including last year's Tricatel compilation A Collection of Little Secrets) Slow Killer. Has the group's sound changed? Though French musician-producer Bertrand Burgalat and Thomas Fehlmann lend production assistance, the album is much like its predecessors. That's not an entirely bad thing, however, especially when Donna Regina's ethereal vocal sighs remain so alluring. Yet her singing style is also perplexing: while it's both pretty and sensuous, her delivery is so bereft of rhythmic inflection or bluesy soul it verges on emotionless, even robotic. The strongest element in “Lazy Heart,” for example, isn't the vocalizing but Pascal Schäfer's jazzy sax playing, and it's likewise more expressive than her singing in “My Melancholy Man.”

Luckily for the group, its material is often so irresistibly winning it camouflages that deficiency. The joyous “Fast as a Shark” shines with an irrepressible charm while the soulful “Secrets” underscores her singing with a marvelous arrangement of vibes and wah-wah guitar. With its sunny melodies and bright pinging vibes, “How Beautiful” is even better, and the Fehlmann-produced “Enemy” offers a gorgeous sampling of dreamy melancholy soul. The collection's sole misstep is a dubby plodder (“Mirame Miraba,” with Spanish lyrics written by Sebastian Carreras) that drags on for an excessive eight minutes. Existing Donna Regina fans won't be disappointed by Slow Killer though one suspects listeners previously unconverted may remain so.

October 2005