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Music Review: Donna Loren – Love It Away

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Donna Loren is alive and well and back in the studio again.

She is best remembered for her singing appearances in four of the Beach Party movies with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. Her career actually began several years prior to those performances, however. She appeared in a Playhouse 90 television episode with Robert Redford during 1960. She gained national attention as the Dr. Pepper spokesperson, 1963-1968. She also was a regular on the 1960’s television program, Shindig, appearing in 26 episodes. She would go on to appear on such TV programs as Batman and The Monkees, among others, before retiring to raise a family in 1968.

During the 1990’s and 2000’s she had relocated to Hawaii where she was an active clothes designer and opened a series of successful boutiques. During 2009 she revived her career and relocated back to the west coast.

She has recently issued a number of new releases, including an album she recorded during the 1980’s but was never released. Magic – The ’80s Collection may have been a little dated but presents her talent well. She also recently released an EP titled Donna Does Elvis In Hawaii.

Last year she returned with her first album of newly recorded material in decades. Love It Away combined eight original compositions with seven cover songs. The production is crisp and her vocals remain clear and strong as she has what best can be described as a pure pop voice. The packaging contains the lyrics to the songs which is always appreciated, plus there are some nice pictures included as well.

The surprising aspect of the album is provided by Donna Loren, the songwriter. I had not thought of her in that context but the songs are melodic and contain some personal and introspective lyrics. Songs such as “Only Love,” “We Are Women,” “OK,” and the title track are all worth a listen.

She picked an eclectic group of material to cover as well. Jackson Browne’s “Live Nude Cabaret,” Electric Light Orchestra’s “Don’t Bring Me Down,” Neil Young’s “Old Man,” Randy Newman’s “Last Night I Had A Dream,” and Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” are all given nice pop renditions.

My favorite track is the old Jimmy Kidd/early Guess Who track, “Shakin’ All Over.” She originally performed the song on Shindig back in the 1960’s and it’s nice to compare it to the original. She also released it as a video which included some original sixties material.

Love It Away is a nice comeback album for Donna Loren. Hopefully there will be more to come.

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