on 9 April 2014
The continuing rise and recognition of Ledisi Anabade Young has continued apace in recent years, receiving recognition from Michelle Obama, singing at the VH1 Divas showcase, and appearing on numerous magazine covers as a highly visible advocate of black female empowerment and fashion. The journey from her first group Anibade, through to 'Soulsinger: The Revival' (2000), 'Feeling Orange But Sometimes Blue' (2002), 'Lost & Found' (2007), 'Turn Me Loose' (2009) and 'Pieces Of Me' (2011) has seen her voice reach a growing audience. Now in 2014 she releases 'The Truth', available as a standard or deluxe edition, which features three extra tracks. This review will encompass the deluxe edition version.
The album opens with the gentle groove of 'I Blame You', already established as a firm favourite on the UK soul scene, managing to meld melody, dance floor compatibility and her powerfully emotive voice, which soars beautifully over the song's coda, with Jazz references found in the scatting end. The pace shifts up for 'Rock With You', clearly aimed at the clubs, replete with a very bright sounding electronically driven production. 'That Good Good' is largely percussive driven affair, with Ledisi in an assertive mode over a dipping bass line and handclaps. 'Lose Control' sees the pace drop, with her voice promising her intended beau a night of fulfillment, weaving over a steady slow rhythm with subtle vocoder shading as an accompaniment (with a possible H-Town melodic reference towards the end). Certainly an early stand out, and 'Like This' continues the mature friendly vein, with a greater degree of lyrical sophistication and a production which hints (through the piano) at late 1970s production, although Hip Hop is referenced through the lift from 'La Di Da Dee' (the B Side to Doug.E Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew's 'The Show' (1985)) which provides the song's title. The cavern like production on 'Anything' is clearly designed to emphasize the song's portentously intended message. 'The Truth' shifts production sounds again, offering another standout moment, with gorgeous melodic underpinning providing all the required space for her voice to do what it does best - simply sing. 'Missy Doubt' is an idiosyncratic song choice here, of the type prevalent in the bright shiny world of pop music. This may well undergo some restructuring and remixing in the future. 'Can't Help Who You Love' returns the album to more adult orientated fare and soundscapes, and it makes perfect sense as a track to end the standard album.
For the deluxe edition three tracks are added, 'Mine', which develops in to a strong groove reminiscent of the early 80s sound of electro-funk. 'I Swear' sees another change of gear, in a style which is markedly different to the earlier material on the album, and 'Quick Fix' is sparse and sexually charged.
So. Do you buy?
There is no doubting the power of Ledisi's voice, nor her apparent ability to communicate emotion with her voice. As a show case to her voice the album does offer a variety of settings, not all of which work equally well, with some evidence of vocal tuning and compression to be heard, rendering her beautiful tone a synthetic quality at odds with much of her earlier work. Some of the material appears to be intended to introduce her voice to a wider (and possibly younger) demographic. In the accompanying liner notes Ledisi writes of being grateful to the record label for allowing her the freedom to, '[...] create music and imagery that is a representation of ME', thus it would appear this continuing move to a wider audience is deliberate. The result as a listening experience, however, is to produce an uneven affair which offers all too rare fine moments and some generic sound-a-like songs that will be easily forgotten.
This certainly isn't her best work to date, and yet with that voice you could almost forgive her musical indiscretions. Almost.
One to listen to before buying.
on 31 March 2014
"The Truth" (Deluxe Edition) is the seventh album by R&B power vocalist Ledisi and also a different musical direction for the many times Grammy-nominated singer, as this record is more up-tempo than previous releases. As Ledisi stated in a recent interview: "I made a decision to not do too many ballads so it reflects the more upbeat side of me. I wanted to make songs that were about my truth. This is the most vulnerable I've ever been."
On this upbeat R&B album, Ledisi showcases her incredible vocal range as she covers a wide range of topics related to love, also displaying a playful sexuality that never turns vulgar. The album opens with the very catchy "I Blame You" and the disco-esque "Rock With You." Then there is the mid-tempo "That Good Good" and the sultry "Lose Control," in which she sings about taking the lead in the bedroom: "Nice red high heel shoes, Left behind some clues, Follow the roses, Let me reward you."
Next are the mid-tempo song "Like This" and the radio-ready tune "Anything." Standout-track "The Truth" showcases her vulnerability, as this is a ballad about the feelings that the songstress went through after her own breakup, and the lively mid-tempo "Missy Doubt." On the mournful "88 Boxes" she sings about packing up pictures and old love letters, or in other words: "My life, it went from years to 88 boxes." Next is my personal favorite of this album, the ballad "Can't Help Who You Love."
The Deluxe Edition adds three tracks to this album: the mid-tempo "Mine," the R&B ballad "I Swear," which is my favorite of the extra songs, and the funky "Quick Fix" with sultry lyrics like "Baby, you better fix it, Come on, I'm gonna' quit this, I need a quick fix," rounding out the 13 tracks.
Final verdict: with "The Truth" (Deluxe Edition) the New Orleans-born singer delivers a well-rounded R&B album. But that said, after listening to this CD repeatedly for the past several days to let the songs sink in, the truth is that, while these are all good, catchy songs, there are too few really outstanding and/or memorable tracks on this album. So I settled on four stars: I like it, a lot, but I don't love it.
on 17 March 2014
Another step in the right direction for Ledisi, who along with Mary J Blige, has to be the best female soul artist of her era. Her voice is wonderful as ever. One or two of the tracks, maybe not my scene and they can sound a little over produced (hence 4 stars instead of 5), but she really hits the mark with "Like This" "I Blame You" "The Truth" "Cant Help Who You Love" and my personal favourite "88 Boxes". I think this lady could sing any style of music and still come out tops. Well done, as always, I eagerly await the next chapter