I’ll write it flat out: Dornik fucking rules.
He probably won’t tell you that. In fact, he’s kind of shy. Jessie Ware essentially forced him to release his songs to the world. He sweetly sings about women who make him blush. He jokes about being your boyfriend. You’ve been on his mind lately, baby.
Since he’s not gonna talk his shit, I’ll do it. You want proof of this dude’s budding, or perhaps current, greatness? Listen to a song that came out this week. It’s a feature on a new Zo! track called “Lifelines,” featuring Phonte from Foreign Exchange and formerly Little Brother, and it’s absolute ear candy, with floating keys across multiple tracks and an addictive beat.
Dornik takes lead vocals and tells the “queen that’s on my throne” that she’s his lifeline, that they can always find a way. Tears fall down his face when the mere consideration of them being apart crosses his mind.
This track is much like Dornik’s other dozen-or-so recorded songs, in that it effortlessly lulls you into the euphoria of a warm day, pink ripples stretching across an orange sky in the belly of a sunset. Musically and lyrically, it carries the listener into that first-three-months-of-love joyfulness where your brain fools your body into thinking it’s damn-near bulletproof, while being oh-so-vulnerable.
Further proof? His self-titled album, one produced by Pop Wansel of Rihanna and Kanye West fame and mixed by Russ Elevado of D’Angelo fame, has been played by me a solid 30 times since I started listening to it in late February. It’s stuck in the deck. And you’re saying, “So what?”: The man has gotten me through the end of Chicago’s winter and rainy season, that’s what. In fact, the album is so damn good that it almost makes me forget it’s cold outside as soon as I put it on.
(Hey: It’s Chicago, man. Making me forget that our seasons are going through puberty is essentially giving the misery receptors in my brain Xanax.)
It’s weird to think this guy is from the U.K., most of these songs likely written and arranged under the gaze of a gray sky, because the sound is pure summer. Check it:
Listening to Dornik is like sleeping in silk underwear, except for your ears. Sometimes you might be thinking “Dear god, this may be too much stimulation from a pair of underwear.. I mean an album.” But you push through and realize that you’re listening to something of a hybrid of soulful, poppy sounds: Michael Jackson, Prince, the mid-2000s Neptunes, Foreign Exchange, and perhaps a dash of J Dilla and Stereolab. Spacey Soul that will keep your head nodding while hitting you right in the feels.
Honestly, it all comes together so naturally that I barely think about the influences as I listen: It sounds fresh. It sounds original as hell. And most importantly, it sounds like an audio ass-shaking festival. Many of his songs, specifically “Blush,” “Drive,” “Strong,” and “Chain Smoke,” (which is a truly incredible pop song) sound like that exact point of an extremely fun concert or dance party feel: You just sort of forget the fact that many aspects of life are extremely troubling. “Let’s forget that shit for a second and have fun, goddamnit.”
Unlike many modern day R&B singers—I’m looking at you, Chris Brown—Dornik won’t tell you about how he’s going “take your bitch” every other song. Or any song. He’s not gonna talk shit about his dick in some way that takes you entirely out of the moment of a song. Quite the opposite. Dornik doesn’t need showy musical masculinity, a laughable concept undertaken by mostly-laughable people.
Instead, his lyrics showcase the sensitivity and sensibility of a man comfortable with himself and the fact that he really, genuinely is into someone. They make him blush. Dude is a school kid around this girl. That crazy feeling you get once a while as an adult and have to check yourself because, shit, I’ve been burned before. But there’s no need for hiding or posturing. “Girl, I think about you every single second of the day/I just can’t help myself, babe.” He’s into her and.. y’know, he just wanted to say it.
It borders on cheesy, to be sure. But aren’t feelings of love and romanticism generally cheesy? You’re putting some deep down part of yourself that you don’t just usually showcase right out there for another human mind to consider, another human body to feel. Someone will see and hear this pouring out of you and there’s a fair chance they could think, What a sap. It’s silly, really. I’m an emotional mess. But God, here we are. And I just told you that I’m addicted to kissing you like someone might be to smoking weed. Is that lame? You wanna makeout? Is that too forward?
Sorry, fell into something of a Dornik zone there. It’s been happening a lot over the past couple months.
Look man. It’s spring. I know a new Radiohead song just came out, but maybe we can cheer up for a second? Maybe we can dance for a little bit? Prince would have wanted that. Don’t disappoint Prince. Listen to some funky shit this spring.