Ledisi - The Truth (2014)

Ledisi
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A personal awakening, a professional epiphany and an emotional precipice: if you're lucky, you'll arrive at those milestones one at a time. But if you're like the rest of us, the seismic core shifts happen simultaneously and leave you reeling. If you're relating to that sentiment, nodding your head and arm-waving as if it's Praise and Worship time on Sunday morning, then open your music changer and ready your iPod for the testimony of Ledisi Young, because she is about to take you all the way home with her seventh studio CD, The Truth. 

A personal awakening, a professional epiphany and an emotional precipice: if you're lucky, you'll arrive at those milestones one at a time. But if you're like the rest of us, the seismic core shifts happen simultaneously and leave you reeling. If you're relating to that sentiment, nodding your head and arm-waving as if it's Praise and Worship time on Sunday morning, then open your music changer and ready your iPod for the testimony of Ledisi Young, because she is about to take you all the way home with her seventh studio CD, The Truth. 

The years since her stellar 2011 release Pieces Of Me have apparently been bittersweet ones for the Lousiana-born singer and songwriter, highlighted by a rise in recognition, record sales and respect from fellow peers. On the other hand, as the soul music crowd fell under the sway of her enthusiasm and effervescence, Ledisi and her man also fell out of love and called it a wrap. Purging the pain, picking up the pieces and pressing on with a re-calibrated sense of self is what listeners will hear within the ten tracks, and given the exultant up-tempo style dominating the disc, Ms.Young is all about that Forward Movement Life, thankyouverymuch.  

Anyone who witnessed Ledisi's Black Girls Rock performance of her first smash single "I Blame You" last winter couldn't help but notice the grown-woman confidence and come-hither sex appeal that came with it, and there's certainly more of where that came from nestled within The Truth. Every song has the lyrical presence and power of hers truly (along with Chuck Harmony, Claude Kelly, Chrisette Michele and Rex Rideout, to name a few), whether it's the atmospheric oath of devotion, "Anything," the feverish disco-esque "Rock With You" or the instant earworm  "That Good Good," where she welcomes Mr. Man into her mix if he's bringing only the best ingredients: "Put your arms around me, like you're glad you found me/Say you can't live without me," she demures. "This kind of love don't come free...." 

Just like any other union, there are moods and moments that speak to every aspect of a relationship (or growing lack thereof): "Lose Control" is that steamy, sensual ode breathlessly delivered to Mr. Right ("Nice red high heel shoes, left behind some clues. Follow the roses, let me reward you, for loving me like you're supposed to."), the mid-tempo "Like This" toggles between ire and angst within a love affair on the verge of collapse and "88 Boxes" is a raw and regret-filled lament about the real-life heartbreak Ledisi was plunged into as she exited stage left: "I think you were afraid, but I wish you said something," she wails though a cracking exterior, "if you said 'I love you' I would've turned around and stayed/But you said NOTHING, nothing...you said nothing. Did you really LOVE me....."

In recent interviews about her new CD, Ms. Young acknowledges that the transformation of her sound and persona may set some tongues to wagging, but she's simply coming into her own as an artist and incorporating more rhythm this time around instead of blues. Fans who have watched Ledisi blossom over the years, however, will admire this release for both its thorns and the pretty petals. 

"It's time to face the truth," she declares on the tempestuous title track, and with songs as catchy, cathartic and energetically rendered as these, you'll happily do so with a resounding "AMEN." Enthusiastically Recommended. 

By Melody Charles

 

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