Donna Missal shows soulful promise on This Time | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Donna Missal shows soulful promise on This Time 

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click to enlarge Donna Missal

Donna Missal

Malia James

New Jersey singer-songwriter Donna Missal has a smoky, powerhouse voice, and a flair for making retro soul sound up-to-the-minute that recalls Amy Winehouse. She began releasing songs in 2015, and on her 2018 debut album, This Time (Harvest), she shows she has potential to become a household name. Opening track "Girl” starts with her vocals framed by a few muted chords and a stripped-down beat; it sounds so good you’re almost sorry when the rest of the band comes in. The song’s profanity-laced lyrics hint at same-sex lust—"Girl, you got me all fucked up / I'm in my feelings"—and though they might not have come out of Stax in its heyday, Missal sings them like they did. Elsewhere, she combines complex emotions and concepts into a single verse, which manages to be an excuse for stealing a lover, a call for feminist solidarity, and a come-on all at once: "Thinking I did something wrong / But I wouldn't choose this / When women hate on other women / Everybody loses." The elements don’t often come together quite as perfectly throughout the album, but Missal is a pleasure to listen to, whether she's throatily emoting over an overdriven beat on the title track, running up and down a jazzy vocal line on "Skyline," or unleashing her full hog-calling power on "Keep Lying." The sort of promise she exudes now seems likely to turn into greatness down the road.   v

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