MAYSA; Motions Of Love (Shanachie)


November 2011 has been great month for fans of female soul. We’ve had breakthrough albums on artists like Deborah Bond, Nicci Canada, Colie Williams and Tasha Taylor; there’s been a great reissue on Jean Wells; a set of Jill Scott “lost” treasures”; enigmatic albums from Sarah Brickel, Lisa Marie Glover and Zara McFarlane; and a stunning last album from the iconic Etta James. Now comes the cherry on this particular musical cake – Maysa’s wonderful 14 tracker ‘Motions Of Love’.

These days marketeers and PR people like to push product via a magical unique selling point. Here they make the USP, the Stevie Wonder collaboration ‘Have Sweet Dreams’. We’re told that Stevie wrote the song especially for his ex-Wonderlove colleague and on it he contributes magical harmonica and backing vocals. The result is a wondrous piece of modern soul balladry. The song boasts a beautiful, typically Stevie Wonder melody, sensitive lyrics, a fabulous vocal, a tingling whispered, harmonic chorus hook and that killer harmonica… if it doesn’t shiver your proverbial timbers… nothing ever will! But guess what? It’s not the only goodie on offer…. there are any number of cuts that rival its majesty.

For starters try the big opener, ‘Get With Me’ – where Maysa offers a nod to her days with Incognito. Then there’s the subtle slow dancer that is ‘Come Dance With Me’; it’s truly sensual and who could resist such an invitation. There’s more romance (lost and found) with ‘Flower Girl’ (a duet with Dwele), the LP’s title cut, ‘You Won’t Find Your Way’, ‘When It’s Over’ and a take on Angela Bofill’s moody 1979 song ‘I Try’. ‘Love Sweet Love’ is brasher, while the gospel-themed ‘Hold On’ is built on a jazzy chassis. It’s all classic Maysa though in places she does try something new. On the tight dancer ‘Day N Night’ she offers a subtle rap while on the reprise to the heartbreaking ‘When It’s Over’ she tackles a monologue in the style of Shirley Brown (check out too the great Carl Cox sax work). Then, most different, there’s ‘Your Name’s Not On The List’. Here there are all kinds of everything – including country style guitar and a shuffling New Orleans gumbo beat.

This is Maysa’s ninth solo set and it’s every bit as good as all the others. And you know, we don’t really need a USP… the main USP here (and on all those other albums) is the wondrously, sensual, soulful voice of Maysa Leak.

(BB) 4/5