Dornik: Dornik | Album Review
R&B / Soul
Hear the drummer get wicked on a whole new level. Dornik Leigh used to add percussive heft to Jessie Ware’s music, but his move to the front of the stage is proving to be far more worthy of note.
There’s no need for any drummer jokes for a start. What you’ll find on the Londoner’s debut album is a set of lovingly and skilfully embellished pop and R&B songs, all topped by a voice which will remind you of only one other. That Dornik sounds like Michael Jackson round the time he was setting the world on fire with Thriller is uncanny. There’s some grit and gravel mixed in, but the overall feeling is as if Jackson re-emerged in Croydon and moonwalked into the nearest studio to go jamming with Prince.
It’s easy to see, too, why Dornik has attracted comparisons to such current-day soul dons as The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and Miguel. His songs shimmer and glow with similar electro-soul inflections and, while there’s certainly a throwback to the 1980s, Dornik is also striving for something as much modern as retro in design and tone. This approach makes for some enticing moments. There are giant hooks to attach yourself to on the slinky, sexy funk of Chain Smoke and the irresistible Standing In Your Line. Tracks such as Strong and Something About You are similarly dressed, though there are plenty of sleek sighs and introspective musing to be found amidst the painstakingly detailed musical beds which support each of them.
What’s interesting is how Dornik is slipping away from the wide shadows of his influences. The guitars, synths and especially the soft pulse of the percussion patterns make for an album full of warm, shy, soulful layers. A star in the making for sure.