LEDISI: Turn Me Loose (Label: Verve)

LEDISI: Turn Me Loose

Since she started her “proper” singing career (back in 1995 with the group Anibade), the lovely Ledisi has built up a devoted fan base. Lots of those fans were turned onto the New Orleans singer via a kind of underground soul network… but her talent couldn’t remain underground for too long and in 2007 she was signed to the Verve label. That launch pad has now established Ms. Young as a true, major soul star and ‘Turn Me Loose (her fifth solo studio album) will consolidate that position. It’s crammed with real soul (rare today from a major label), and though its glossily packaged, the music’s raw passion and honesty will satisfy even those fans who were there right at the start. You see Ledisi’s remarkable voice remains the constant and though she now works with a major label she retains total control and calls the shots … and that fact is evident in every track. She sounds comfortable throughout – whether it’s a raunchy rocker – like the cover of Buddy Miles’ ‘Them Changes’ or a big set piece ballad like ‘The Answer To Why’ … she sounds right at home. And that ballad is a good example of what I’m banging on about. The song is one of those tunes that deal with big issues, but Ledisi manages to avoid the sentimentality and triteness that so many such songs descend into. It’s an excellent cut – but only one of very many. The pair of Raphael Saadiq co-productions (‘Love Never Changes’ and ‘Please Stay’) are outstanding too, but then so too are the ultra-catchy ‘Say No’ and the Rex Rideout produced ‘Goin Thru Changes’ which has all the hallmarks of the classic soul divas. Jam and Lewis offer a killer cut too – ‘Higher Than This’, but in honesty there are no duds in here. Even the rock-inflected ‘Knockin” has considerable merit. Ledisi – there and throughout – achieves what few ever manage. She inhabits the song … proving that there are currently few – if any – female soul singers to rival her.
(BB) 5/5