Juan Donovan is a producer and composer from Baltimore, Maryland, whose sound which has led to productions for Wale, R. Kelly, Maino, JellyRoll, Sheek Louch, Gudda Gudda, Lil Flip, Kidd Kidd, and more. Juan’s talent expands into composing for TV /Film projects such as HBO’s “The Wire”, Amazon’s “Bosch”, ESPN’s “30 For 30” and more. Working under his own imprint JaMary Records, and with a slew of unsigned buzzworthy talent, Juan has amassed over a half million Spotify streams. His solely produced Aliché “Exx” album, and his R&B debut, “Merlot & Marijuana” gained him widespread critical acclaim.
Juan Donovan’s sophomore project is his latest 13-track R&B TrapSoul collection, entitled “When Morning Is Still Last Night”. Rich, smooth and bursting with distinctive production touches, the album makes smart use of all of its features. The album is an evolution of musical progression that blends a diversity of tones tempos, and textures into a brilliant cohesive body of soul-stirring music.
“Lips” ft. Phoebe Carter starts the album off with a luxurious instrumental and skittering hi-hats that slowly develop into a inspired slow-burning groove with lots of keys, bass and Phoebe’s honeycomb vocals. “Naked” ft. Breanna Steer brings home Juan Donovan’s virtuoso ability to craft resonating pads and percussion with depth and character. It’s from these first two tracks that we get to understand, why Juan’s instrumentals have brought him to where he is, on his career path.
The intensity steps up a notch on “Decide” ft. TMC & Hailey, where the male-female, call and response vocals, are matched by Juan’s keys and deeply reverberating bassline. Choosing to color with bold the lines and create luscious soundscapes Juan Donovan’s shows zero restraint when it comes to his song writing.
“Wrong or Right” ft. Ouncez O.Z. showcases shimmering and jangling guitars. As does the explicitly sexy “Kegels II” ft. NewNew Babii & Honey-B-Sweet, which forced me to hit the replay button a couple of times.
Throughout the album Juan Donovan’s production style perfectly complements the various styles of the unsigned, all-star supporting cast. Juan allows each of their vocals to shine and dictate the momentum of the instrumentals. Resulting in lush songs that perfectly blend together showcasing the chemistry between the producer and the artist. And when he decides to go it alone on the ethereal and expansive instrumental, “Always Be”, the results are no less impressive.
On “Like That”, Juan designs a steady thumping bass drum to underscore the lavish keys and strings which are further embellished by the vocals. “Summertime” ft. PromKnght takes us to the hallway mark, as the album continues to build with emotional intensity.
You can hear that Juan Donovan is putting a lot of thought into his work. Almost every track can be used to chill after a hard day’s work, or as a sensual bedroom jam, but you can also imagine it banging in a late-night club setting.
“Lonely” ft. Neguine Niktash highlights seductive vocals which fit perfectly in the cozy, smooth flowing and crisp instrumentation. “Entitled” ft. Danni Jackson & Lance Prime is melody and harmony in its purist form.
It’s easy to get lost between the kick drums, and the mellifluous vocals, and before you know it, the track is over. “Xposed” ft. Antonia Marquee, introduces a sultry, smoky voice, over dynamic percussion and glistening organic warmth.
“L’amour de ma vie” is another handmade instrumental by Juan Donovan, where his commitment to lusciously layered intricacies makes his music so immediately appealing. The album closes with “Midnight In Paradise” ft. Danni Jackson who serenades to a resonant piano dominated backdrop.
On this album we witness the Juan Donovan formula in its most smooth and fully developed state. “When Morning Is Still Last Night” exposes his versatility and soul as a producer, as well as his unprecedented attention to, and manipulation of detail.
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