Maysa - Back 2 Love (2015)

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After 20 years and 10 solo CDs, creating classics with renowned Jazz collective Incognito and recording with musical genius Stevie Wonder, it's downright criminal that more ears aren't tuned in to the lovely and lilting sounds of Maysa Leak.A singer and songwriter blessed with an expressive, silk-infused alto, the Baltimore native soothes and regales practically anyone in hearing range, made clear by the Grammy nomination of her 2013 effort, Blue Velvet Soul. Back 2 Loveher latest project (following last year's first ever holiday release, A Very Maysa Christmas), amps up the eclectic factor with dance, pop, classically-rendered jazz and sultry, sophisticated traditional soul. If Back 2 Love sounds like a declaration, you're actually not too far off base: it signals a growing sense of freedom for a mother of a teenage son who's ready to find new love.

After 20 years and 10 solo CDs, creating classics with renowned Jazz collective Incognito and recording with musical genius Stevie Wonder, it's downright criminal that more ears aren't tuned in to the lovely and lilting sounds of Maysa Leak.A singer and songwriter blessed with an expressive, silk-infused alto, the Baltimore native soothes and regales practically anyone in hearing range, made clear by the Grammy nomination of her 2013 effort, Blue Velvet Soul. Back 2 Loveher latest project (following last year's first ever holiday release, A Very Maysa Christmas), amps up the eclectic factor with dance, pop, classically-rendered jazz and sultry, sophisticated traditional soul. If Back 2 Love sounds like a declaration, you're actually not too far off base: it signals a growing sense of freedom for a mother of a teenage son who's ready to find new love. Featuring production and lyrics with Lorenzo Johnson, Chris "Big Dog" Davis, J.R.Hutson, Phil Perry and Stokley Williams, Maysa co-wrote a majority of the mix and adds her trademark flair to songs of affection, optimism and authenticity.  

Ms. Leak's got the goods here, quite frankly, to entice the uninitiated into her realm and to satisfy the long-term followers of Team Maysa: "Heavenly Voices" finds her in the comfort zone, wrapping her luxurious vocals around a tranquil jazz melody ("Heavenly voices, speak to me/heavenly voices, guide me protect me"), while "Go Away Little Boy" is an original jam (based in concept on the Marlena Shaw classic) that finds her tired and too-through with a childish man: he may be easy on the eyes and "give me butterflies that I can't deny," but Maysa soon sends him on home, toys and all: "Even though you're a grown grown man, you're still too young for me/ and I'm a good grown woman, I can't let you play games with me." Ouch. 

Since love remains a finicky thing, Maysa goes on to convey all of the twists and turns, breathlessly surrendering to its primal rhythms in "Unforgettable," and reveling in passion with the pulsating "Beautiful Symphony." Her smoky croon is expressive all on its own, but a couple of songs owe some of their sparkle to a pair of male virtuosos riding along for the journey: Phil Perry is the one who sends her pulse a-fluttering in the yearning-filled soliloquy, "Last Chance For Love," and Stokley Williams' contribution, "Keep It Movin'," creates a funk-fueled and fervent duet that captures the 'should we or should we not' uncertainty of two war-weary vets on the battlefield of love: "If you try me way too long, you'll look up and find me gone/Ain't no game where I come from, gotta keep it movin' carry on." 

Whether it's a tangy pop ditty ("Miracle"), a disco-driven mantra ("Tear It Up Tear It Down" or a feverish dance groove like the title track, Maysa switches it up and lays it down with both the enthusiasm of a newbie and the time-tested talents that her longevity authenticates. Back 2 Love may signal a willingness to finally share the heart, but don't let the title fool you: as far as her skills are concerned, Maysa the Soul Siren never left. Highly Recommended. 

By Melody Charles

Click Here to listen to "Back 2 Love"

 
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