Ledisi - Let Love Rule (2017)

Ledisi
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Back in 2007, on her major-label debut CD Lost & Found, Ledisi turned her hopes and anxieties about the future into the hit “Alright.” It was a period of tight budgets, small audiences and according to Ledisi, her faith and her mother’s pep talks were the fuel that kept her keeping on when she was “sleeping on the floor” wondering if she would ever make it.

What a difference a decade can make; today, Ledisi is a nine-time Grammy nominee, an author and a burgeoning actress (Selma and Tale of Four), and is considered one of the best and brightest stars in the universe of jazz and contemporary R&B. It’s been over three years since her revelatory CD, The Truth, and it’s a safe bet that her latest, Let Love Rule, will be heralded by “LedHeads” as a richly-rendered collection, brimming with musical mantras highlighting the pains, passions and personal lessons cultivated along the journey of life.

Back in 2007, on her major-label debut CD Lost & Found, Ledisi turned her hopes and anxieties about the future into the hit “Alright.” It was a period of tight budgets, small audiences and according to Ledisi, her faith and her mother’s pep talks were the fuel that kept her keeping on when she was “sleeping on the floor” wondering if she would ever make it.

What a difference a decade can make; today, Ledisi is a nine-time Grammy nominee, an author and a burgeoning actress (Selma and Tale of Four), and is considered one of the best and brightest stars in the universe of jazz and contemporary R&B. It’s been over three years since her revelatory CD, The Truth, and it’s a safe bet that her latest, Let Love Rule, will be heralded by “LedHeads” as a richly-rendered collection, brimming with musical mantras highlighting the pains, passions and personal lessons cultivated along the journey of life.

Thanks to the blend of veterans (Rex Rideout, Kirk Franklin) and newer collaborators (DJ Camper, Prince Charlez, DJ Kahlil, Sebastian Cole, etc.), Let Love Rule is both familiar and fresh; “If you don’t mind, can I be/far from perfect, just can I be me?” she opines from the Kirk Franklin-produced mission statement, “If You Don’t Mind”; and another audacious track, “Add To Me,” recalls the swagger of Truth’s “That Good Good” in its fearlessness: “Clothes, rings, all of them mean nothing to me/I need more than what you’re offering me…..I need some relation, good conversation, give me stimulation, what’s your motivation?” “Hello” is its flip-side, a yanking away of the rose-colored glasses and revealing Ledisi’s ex in a harsh new light; “Under your skin, truth of you that hides behind the shadow of your grin/the ugly under these ‘I love yous’ cover what’s within.” She’s not totally soured on love though: “Us 4Ever” (with BJ The Chicago Kid) is her vow to stick out the rough patches and conflicts, and John Legend’s mellowness also swirls intriguingly with Ledisi’s urgency on the mid-tempo ‘come hither’ groove, “Give You More.”

Whether the CD title was meant as a nod to Lenny Kravitz’s 90s debut, Ledisi’s latest also steps up the outer realm focus, adding just enough consciousness to be ‘woke’ without going into full activist mode. “Shot Down” is a reggae-tinged commentary of a trigger-happy society gone mad, wondering if we are “born to die all because the color of skin,” as the title track speaks to embracing the one emotion that can heal and empower us all.

From the spoken wisdom (Ilyanla Vanzant, Soledad O'Brien), the slow-burning balladry ("High," "Here," "All the Way") and the galvanizing mixture of modern edge and timeless 'sangin,' Let Love Rule is soul food to the ears, salve for the heart and sweetness for the spirit. Ledisi is at the top of her game, no longer on the floor and she's taken us all along for the ride....'alright' and Amen. Highly Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 
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