In today’s assortment of music, neo-soul doesn’t necessarily get the first pick for awards or radio play. With mainstream pop music receiving the majority of praise and recognition, soul artists have to go the extra mile and put in double the effort to succeed commercially. Nonetheless, no amount of radio spins can amount to the quality of this under praised genre which produces some of the strongest vocalists with some of the deepest stories and lyrics.
Powerhouse singer Ledisi seems to beat the odds with over a decade of longevity, multiple Grammy nominations, seven studio albums and charted singles including her recent lead single “I Blame You,” which reached No. 11 on Billboard’s Adult R&B chart. Three years following her previous 2011 studio release “Pieces of Me,” Ledisi pulls out all of her cards and reveals “The Truth,” her seventh studio effort.
Approaching this album review with an open mind, yet keen ear; I give “The Truth” the same opportunity as I do any other album. Despite my unfamiliarity with Ledisi’s full discography, my hope is to discover “the pieces” of this neo-soul jewel as she displays her most honest and vulnerable album to date.
“I Blame You”
Preparing us for the open room of dirty laundry, the Verve Records signee lures us in with a catchy up-beat lead single “I Blame You.” The feel good tune sets the atmosphere for the 10-track album as she blames her lover for the love spell she has experienced from being wooed and swept off her feet. Cupid has the New Orleans native wearing a glow, losing her breath and smiling uncontrollably. Ledisi is drunk in love and she’s not taking any blame for it.
“Rock With You”
Following the previous Chuck Harmony and Claude Kelly-produced track, Ledisi continues the storyline and proves that she is down for the long-run. Being swept off her feet was enough to secure her devotion and commitment. The track embodies a Whitney Houston flare reminiscent of the late 80s and could fit right along with any late 80s playlist. The track doesn’t scream single worthiness, but it definitely serves as a unique track on the album.
“That Good Good”
And then there was life… Ledisi kicks it up a notch and breathes life on the track. I’m sure she has scored a touchdown with the ladies on this potential anthem. After she ensures her lover that she”s down for the long haul, she wants to make sure that he returns the favor—giving her “That Good Good.” The bold vocalist isn’t afraid to make her needs and desires known. She needs a man who can and will cater to her needs.
Changing up the mood and winding things down for the grown and sexy, the 41-year-old shows that she knows a thing or two about taking control in the bedroom. Ledisi rewards her lover with rose petals, high heels and a romantic night for following her instructions from the previous song. True R&B lovers will appreciate and enjoy this sensual, smooth record. She is sure to make you “Lose Control” on this record and give you—“something you ain’t never ever had.”
Unfortunately, the prime of her love spell has ceased. Every good thing comes to an end—so they say—but it doesn’t have to come to a bitter end “like this.” Ledisi wants the best for both her and her lover, but she knows they cannot love if they simply cannot agree when it comes to arguments. The songstress expresses her desire to lay the arguments to rest and just love. This track seems to be very relatable and resonates with the great love songs of the late 90s by the likes of Faith Evans and Kelly Price.
Circling back to her feelings of her track “Rock With You,” Ledisi expresses that through the arguments and bad times she will be his foundation and support system through anything. This attests to her true and unconditional love for her lover as his pain is her pain too. This track has a nice, simple anthem flow that could potentially be a great hit on urban radio.
The timeless and classic title-track reveals her acceptance of the dwindling nature of her relationship. “Even if I tried to stay, it wouldn’t change,” sings Ledisi—a phrase that many need to hear. The truth hurts and this beautiful ballad is the harsh reflection in the mirror that she and her lover have simply grown apart. Their feelings toward each other have shifted and the romance has diminished. Ledisi’s vocals on this track are impeccable showcasing her passion and personal connection with the DJ Camper-produced track.
This feisty eighth track retracts everything she says in the previous track as she believes once again in her faded love. She confirms that she shouldn’t have ever doubted her lover and that at the end of the day she can’t live without him. This Janelle Monae reminiscent track is fun and upbeat with mainstream potential.
You can’t escape the inevitable no matter how long you try to prolong it. Ledisi goes back to her indecisive ways and questions her love once again. Years of memories become 88 boxes of packed items that she’s moving out the door. She didn’t want to leave the memories behind, but she knew it was a decision she ultimately had to make. She admits that if he asked her to stay she would, but he said nothing—making her question if he ever loved her.
“Can’t Help Who You Love”
Ledisi wraps up the album with a pleasant and pleasing tune. The three-minute track seems to be fitting for the end of the album because it conveys a good message of understanding one’s self and concludes the album in a very honest way. “You can’t help who you love; your heart’s just got a brain of its own.”
Ledisi was able to deliver a decent album by expanding her horizons and evolving as an artist. Although there were no features on the album, Ledisi worked with additional producers giving her album a well-rounded tracklist and a handful of single worthy potentials (including her lead single “I Blame You”). The songstress went a different creative direction from previous albums which all consisted of a heavy number of ballads, and incorporated a variety of beats this go around. Ledisi humanized herself to her fans by displaying a confident, open and fun side that isn’t often seen revealing her inner-most feelings and desires. The New Orleans native delivered a solid effort showing her growth, helping me and others get to know her strengths and artistry.
Album Rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars
Favorite Tracks: “I Blame You,” “Lose Control,” “Like This,” “Anything,” “The Truth”
Three Potential Singles: “That Good Good,” “Anything,” “The Truth”
Get Ledisi’s new album “The Truth” on iTunes now.