Lalah Hathaway - Outrun the Sky (2005)

Lalah Hathaway
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Lalah Hathaway is one of those rare contemporary artists who transcends time and genre.  Her deep, smoky voice and excellent phrasing are mesmerizing, and they have allowed her to maintain a fiercely loyal following despite occasionally uneven material and despite long lapses between CDs.

 

Lalah Hathaway is one of those rare contemporary artists who transcends time and genre.  Her deep, smoky voice and excellent phrasing are mesmerizing, and they have allowed her to maintain a fiercely loyal following despite occasionally uneven material and despite long lapses between CDs.

Her fans have certainly remained patient, waiting a full decade between The Moment and her new disc, Outrun the Sky.  And the result is generally positive, on par with her solid 1990 debut album.  Opening with the nice jazzy midtempo, "How Many Times," the disc runs through a series of tasteful urban adult contemporary numbers with sufficiently restrained production as to allow her beautiful voice to remain up front.  And while, as on The Moment, some of the songs simply aren't first rate ("Better and Better," "Admit It"), Outrun the Sky is more consistent than its predecessor.  UAC radio has jumped on her Luther remake, "Forever, For Always, For Love," a nice cover that stretches her lower range a bit, but the disc contains a number of even more interesting cuts.  "Your Favorite Song" and "If U Ever" are top notch midtempo numbers on which Lalah appears more comfortable and in control than ever.  Even better, however, are the trio of ballads at the end of the disc.  "We Were 2" is a terrific, eight minute bluesy ballad and is followed by the equally impressive "More." The CD finishes with the sad, haunting ballad, "Boston," a touching song that Lalah's been singing for over a year now and that is clearly the highlight of the disc.

While her 1999 disc with Joe Sample, The Song Lives On, was a career album that couldn't be replicated, with Outrun the Sky Lalah Hathaway has created a classy and welcome addition to her discography that should be gobbled up by her patient, devoted fans.

By Chris Rizik

 
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