Donny Hathaway

Donny Hathaway

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With just one exception, Donny Hathaway's second full-length is a covers album, featuring one of the most pop-averse artists in soul music surprisingly offering interpretations of contemporary hit material like "A Song for You," "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," "Magnificent Sanctuary Band," and (most effectively) "Put Your Hand in the Hand," a laidback yet rolling, gospel-choir version of the song he was born to sing. In striking contrast to his debut, Donny Hathaway is a very dark record, and it opens on a particularly low note, with "Giving Up" (a 1964 R&B hit for Gladys Knight & the Pips). Most of Hathaway's performances are slow, piano-led laments, powerfully delivered but with little melodic sway to convert listeners. It's no coincedence then, that the only up-tempo song, "Magnificent Sanctuary Band," is the standout. "Little Girl" is a nice piece of gospel testifying with great male harmonizing on the chorus, and "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" is a solid rendering of a song usually drenched in pathos. Still, whereas Everything Is Everything saw him leading the choir up in the front of church, Donny Hathaway sounds like the lament of a man alone in the sanctuary after services are finished.

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