Maysa - Blue Velvet Soul (2013)

Maysa
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"It's like butter, like the butter baby: not no Parkay, not no margarine, strictly butter, strictly butter Baby."
 
That riff came from a classic Tribe Called Quest track, but that's probably one of the best ways to describe Blue Velvet Soul, the tenth  in a steady stream of delectable CDs by the one-woman jazz and suave soul purveyor, Maysa. 
 
With the various projects on which she's cultivated those dulcet, dusky vocals, Ms. Leak has learned exactly how to select numbers showcasing her immense skills. Listeners who enjoyed the artistic approaches made in 2011's enjoyable Motions of Love will find Blue to be its just-as-confident counterpart.
"It's like butter, like the butter baby: not no Parkay, not no margarine, strictly butter, strictly butter Baby."
 
That riff came from a classic Tribe Called Quest track, but that's probably one of the best ways to describe Blue Velvet Soul, the tenth  in a steady stream of delectable CDs by the one-woman jazz and suave soul purveyor, Maysa. 
 
With the various projects on which she's cultivated those dulcet, dusky vocals, Ms. Leak has learned exactly how to select numbers showcasing her immense skills. Listeners who enjoyed the artistic approaches made in 2011's enjoyable Motions of Love will find Blue to be its just-as-confident counterpart. Maysa's range proves to be as sprawling as the emotional landscape covered within the fifteen songs---those soothing and smoky pipes turn the loyalty oath, "Be There," for example, into a siren's song aimed at a man thisclose to letting the well run dry: "Now Baby I'm your friend, I will love you to the end. Even when you do those things, that I can't compehend/I've been there from the start, and I'll still be around/when those fancy girls you're chasing, finally break your heart." "Put It On Me" is an unapolgetic disco-era thowback, delivered with enough coyness and breathless sex appeal to make Diana Ross proud (see "Love Hangover"). 
 
Whether it's introspective interludes ("Inside My Dream"), dopamine-fueled devotion ("Quiet Fire," "This Much"), a plea for reciprocity (the twitchy uptempo "Love Me Good") or willfully falling for a player's charms (the lusty "When You Touch Me" and half-spoken, half-sung soliliquy, "Sophisticated Lover"), Maysa nimbly conveys the spirit of the songs with her trademark kiss of cool---"Nothing But You" is a lover's lament with a pulsating, Thelma Houston-like groove, rueing her boo's shoddy treatment and craving him all the same. "Pouring Rain" is also almost spoken more than it is sung, as if Maysa doesn't want to break the sentiment created by the fragile music, and "Beautiful Dreamer," the opening track, is a lot breezier and less melancholy, but just as sincere in its quest to espouse sisterhood and goodwill (if a bit on the sappy side): "If we could see the world, through the eyes of a child, we'd never ever lose fate, in all of mankind."
 
In her well-heeled tradition of impeccable phrasing, sensual wordplay, and fully-ripened blends of jazz, danceable genre-bending grooves and contemporary R&B, Maysa has delivered again. The measured, methodical way that she wields her contralto, along with the diverse moods and material, assures that both long-time fans and those just discovering Ms. Leak's unique appeal will crave the "strictly butter" goodness that drips down and throughout the contents of Blue Velvet Soul. Highly Recommended.
 
By Melody Charles
 
World Premiere - Chris Jasper - "For The Love of You"
Album of the Month - Jeffrey Dennis - "Lovin On You"
Featured Album - Leon Ware - "Rainbow Deux"

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