MAYSA LEAK: A Woman In Love (Label: Shanachie)

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MAYSA LEAK: A Woman In Love

Maysa Leak’s been a long time mainstay of the REAL soul scene – a fact endorsed by a recent Soul Train award for “Soul Approved Underground Singer”. Her vocal talent has shone through since her days with Wonderlove, through all the great times with Incognito and on into all her varied solo sets. This new collection – her fourth for the Shanachie label – is, I believe, Maysa’s most varied set yet taking in, as it does, her interpretations of jazz classics, covers of pop, soul and MOR standards, plus a generous quintet of original songs – four of which she penned herself. Of those, the undoubted highlight is the laid back, romantic duet with Will Downing – ‘Love Theory’. It’s perfectly constructed and executed and it’s destined to rapidly become a Maysa Leak classic. The other originals are ‘Am I Wrong (For Loving You)’ – a lovely, light and frothy Latin affair, ‘Spend Some Time’ – a very tight, neat, clipped mid-tempo beater and the album’s title cut, which has all the trademarks of the lady’s time with Incognito. Then, there’s ‘Honeybee’ – a song written for the LP by John Jones. This one’s another tight groove with some pleasing vibes from the aforementioned Mr. Jones. Then there’s the mixed bag of covers. Theolonius Monk’s ‘Round Midnight’ is given a bluesy treatment – slow n’ funky; Michel LeGrand’s ‘What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life’ and Nat Cole’s ‘When I Fall In Love’ are taken “straight” while on ‘Willow Weep For Me’ Maysa gets the chance to show her scat skills… nice trumpet too from Mike Rodriguez. Then there’s a dramatic (but un-histrionic) take on ‘I Put A Spell On You’ and a lovely slowed version of Michael Jackson’s ‘The Lady In My Life’. The slower tempo allows the beauty of Rod Temperton’s’ melody to shine through and Maysa makes the most of it. Maysa, herself, call it “real music”. She says that the album is meant to bring back just that… but with her it’s never been away. She’s savvy enough to know that “beauty or booty” can swing it for a while – but real talent will out in the end… here’s more positive proof.
(BB) 4/5