Jonathan Butler

Do You Love Me?

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On Jonathan Butler's N2K Encoded Music debut, Do You Love Me, he continues his jack-of-two-trades approach, balancing R&B-based vocal tunes with easy, acoustic guitar-based instrumentals. While it's a friendly enough listen, Butler here doesn't display a powerful enough mastery of either format. His guttural, heartfelt vocal style -- reminiscent of Jon Secada -- can make even the most Lionel Richie-esque lyric seem deeper than it is (even a new song with a title like "The Way You Look Tonight"), but few of the adult-oriented vocal tunes here are as memorable or hooky as his best-known hit, "Sarah Sarah." "Do You Love Me?," for instance, should be a deep, emotional moment, but comes off as a pleasant, easily dismissed conversation. Fortunately, "You Don't Belong to Me" has more lyrical bite, nicely underscored with a percussive guitar line underneath his angry tone. Butler should put more of that pointed energy into his play-it-safe instrumentals, which generally gallop along smoothly without building much steam. The best one can do with this sort of album is like Butler a lot.

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