Liv Warfield - The Unexpected (2014)

Liv Warfield
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With 2006's debut CD, Embrace Me, Peoria native and athlete Liv Warfield demonstrated equal doses of polish and potential. The burgeoning 30-something triple threat could've made a comfortable existence for herself by capitalizing on that "Sade-meets-Jill Scott-meets-Anita Baker" sound amongst her peers, but the former gymnast decided to strengthen the vocal chords, stage presence and pen game, catching the eye and interest of Prince (!!!) via a youtube clip and later touring with Mr. Royal Badness himself.
With 2006's debut CD, Embrace Me, Peoria native and athlete Liv Warfield demonstrated equal doses of polish and potential. The burgeoning 30-something triple threat could've made a comfortable existence for herself by capitalizing on that "Sade-meets-Jill Scott-meets-Anita Baker" sound amongst her peers, but the former gymnast decided to strengthen the vocal chords, stage presence and pen game, catching the eye and interest of Prince (!!!) via a youtube clip and later touring with Mr. Royal Badness himself. So, if you copped her first CD and anticipated more of the same soul-centered and jazzed-up grooves found on her debut, um.....brace yourself because Liv didn't exaggerate one iota when she entitled her sophomore set The Unexpected. 
 
Face it: you've got to be a baaaaad lady when The Purple One hand-picks you to join him on the road, puts his own lauded New Power Generation band in the mix as he exec-produces the project and co-writes a song with you (Liv wrote nearly half of the 11 tracks herself), so the performances here certainly won't disappoint. The results of Unexpected are just like the woman and cover art: brash, voluptuous and vibrant. Guided by the proven prowess of Roy Agee, Phil Lassiter and Ryan Waters, to name a few, Warfield is an enthusiastic and emboldened performer as she splashes the introspective jams with gospel fervor, bold rock overtones and dashes of fiery funk.  
 
If you were one of the millions sold and slayed by Liv's performance of "Why Do You Lie" on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon recently (and before you ask, yes....the recorded version is equally as fierce), then the rest of the CD will be just as compelling: her vocal versatility can range from girlish infatuation on "Catch Me If You Can" to cool and coquettish in the lushly-rendered and sexually-charged Prince contribution, "The Show."  The influence of Tina Turner can also be heard in the raw buffalo stance Warfield assumes while delivering "Blackbird," the pseudonym of a hardy soul who won't bow to the expectations of others: "They may try to break my wings, I ain't no slave I ain't no queen," Warfield wails. "They only love me when I sing/ I'm just a rebel..."
 
As gifted as Ms. Warfield is in her own right, the immaculate backdrop of instrumentation by NPG (brassy horns, rollicking guitars, etc.) is just as essential to the outcome and the influence of her iconic mentor will not be denied: the plucky "Lena Blue," for example, will remind Prince fans of "Alphabet Street" as she describes a tortured soul who keeps a Bible at the ready, yet will quickly "cuss you out like a sailor" if you burden her with your pity. The galvanizing "Freedom" is softly sung, yet wields stinging words of rebuke to folks who take the low road to Selloutville. "I choose to be a freedom rider, nothing wrong with being a freedom fighter," Liv purrs. "The revolution will not stop....so reach your peace now or never!" 
 
To sum it up, let's just say that Liv Warfield's je nais se qua is sort of like the cap of blonde tresses atop her head: brilliant, edgy and not exactly for the introverted. But for those who are broad-minded enough to receive and explore her many facets, Liv Warfield's sophomore set showcases formidable talents that will inspire and entertain her growing legion of fans for years to come. Maybe, when the third CD drops, the title will describe what she's certainly become...."unleashed." People, get ready.  Enthusiastically Recommended.
 
By Melody Charles
 
 

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