Donna Washington

For the Sake of Love

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Aided by a colorful cast of players including Nathan East, Patrice Rushen, Harvey Mason, and Leon "Nduga" Chancler, soulful siren Donna Washington's debut album is an unaffected smattering of equal parts up-tempo R&B-funk grooves and mellow ballads. Her roots are firmly planted in the church, as evidenced by her powerful storytelling on the moving "Innocent" and the contagious, feel-good vibe she brings forth on "Didn't You Know." Just as satisfying vocally, and with even stronger arrangements, are the assertive, horn-infested dance number "First Things First" and the Lamont Dozier composition "Coming in for a Landing." The ballads comprising most of the B-side (including a cover of Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now") run together a bit with production that is somewhat lacking, but they don't diminish the set's overall quality. While Going for the Glow and Just for You were solid follow-up efforts, For the Sake of Love undoubtedly stands as Washington's most individual and dynamic.