Angela Johnson - Got To Let It Go (2005)

Angela Johnson
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For those who were big fans of Angela Johnson's debut album, They Don't Know, and her two albums with Cooly's Hot Box, anticipation was high for her second solo disc Got to Let it Go...and it doesn't disappoint.  I will confess off the bat that I've felt for awhile that Angela Johnson is one of the brightest young soul music performers around.  Her bright voice and excellent phrasing simply lift everything she touches, and she has demonstrated that she is also an excellent songwriter with great musical instincts.  With Got to Let it Go Johnson completes the trifecta, as she shows real development as an arranger, using a wide palette of instruments and sounds (as well as some clever vocal arrangements) to create an extremely attractive and varied backdrop through the twelve cuts, whether it be giving a Memphis-style soul sound on "I'll Always," a light jazz aura on "You're Here with Me" or a live soul jam feel on "Whatever It Takes."

For those who were big fans of Angela Johnson's debut album, They Don't Know, and her two albums with Cooly's Hot Box, anticipation was high for her second solo disc Got to Let it Go...and it doesn't disappoint.  I will confess off the bat that I've felt for awhile that Angela Johnson is one of the brightest young soul music performers around.  Her bright voice and excellent phrasing simply lift everything she touches, and she has demonstrated that she is also an excellent songwriter with great musical instincts.  With Got to Let it Go Johnson completes the trifecta, as she shows real development as an arranger, using a wide palette of instruments and sounds (as well as some clever vocal arrangements) to create an extremely attractive and varied backdrop through the twelve cuts, whether it be giving a Memphis-style soul sound on "I'll Always," a light jazz aura on "You're Here with Me" or a live soul jam feel on "Whatever It Takes."

Musically, the songs on Let It Go are subtler that on Johnson's debut album. While the bouncy "All I Need" and the beautiful ballad "Tell Me" are infectiously radio ready, the compositions on Got to Let it Go are generally not be as hooky as on They Don't Know, but reveal more - and get better and better -- with repeated listenings.  By my fourth time through I was quite smitten by the entire disc, especially the bluesy burner "On My Way," the Al Green-like "I'll Always" and the wonderful "Whatever It Takes."   And while They Don't Know was a uniquely strong debut and a very tough act to follow, I've come to believe that Got to Let it Go is its equal.   

Stepping back to put Got to Let it Go in the context of Angela Johnson's four solo and group albums, it clearly shows a performer who, with her development as a producer/arranger, has completed her transformation into an all-around musical force.  It also becomes the most recent exhibit supporting my proposition that Angela Johnson is perhaps the most exciting, talented young female artist in soul music today.  Very highly recommended.

by Chris Rizik

 
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