As a New Orléans native, Ledisi naturally allows her jazz influenced sound to emanate through her richly flavored voice, while her use of true instrumentation reflects beautifully in her music. She is one of few artists who can effortlessly cover selections from legends like Chaka Khan and The Clark Sisters. Achieving perfect precision with her own art takes more effort — at least for her latest album, Let Love Rule.
“This wasn’t a quickie. This album was one of the hardest I’ve ever worked on,” she revealed to Billboard.com about her two-year recording process. “We were looking for songs that could stand the test of time. It was about great songwriting. I’ve come back to what I love about R&B and also what I love about today’s music.”
Executive produced by Ledisi and longtime collaborator Rex Rideout, Let Love Rule features 15 tracks and exhibits the similar burden of relationship headaches as her 2014 album, The Truth.
With Let Love Rule, Ledisi adds more delicious relationship nuggets to her seven-piece catalog. She does this by creating a cohesive record that sounds current, needed and still Ledisi.
Before parting ways, Ledisi says “Hello” to her lover’s true self once he’s revealed. “Before you say goodbye to our forever / I just gotta let you know that I see you / So hello, to the man behind the words I thought I heard all before / But you were hiding in the lie so you decided it was time to let go,” she sings.
On “Here,” she requests her lover’s full participation in their love saga. “So if you’re going stay, I need you to be here / To show me that you care / Let me know you’re here,” belts Ledisi on the Jeff “Gitty” Gitelman-produced cut.
Ledisi’s love for her man is like a bleach stain on dark clothes, it’s not going anywhere. She makes this claim abundantly clear on “Us 4ever” featuring BJ the Chicago Kid. Over the nod worthy instrumental the she sings, “We love, we fight, we argue, then we make it right / You leave, I go, then we’re back together / Our love so strong, who’s right, who’s wrong? / What we built, won’t break / I guess it’s us 4ever.”
While Ledisi discusses love’s ugly moments, she shares the beautiful moments, too. Love elevates her on the DJ Camper-produced “High” and love makes everything alright on “All The Way,” which is a powerful piano-based ballad. “Love me, with all of your heart / Will you love me / When things get too hard, and I need you more / Make sure you’re sure, that you’ll love me all the way,” she sings.
Ledisi generously touches on the social injustice movement Black Lives Matter with “Shot Down,” a Caribbean-flavored song. “Education is a loaded gun, shot down before I had a chance to run / the system says we matter but the Black Lives only matters certain days,” coos Ledisi. She appreciates the power of patience the Kirk Franklin produced track “If You Don’t Mind.”
The R&B songstress does a spectacular job of giving fans more ear orgasms with her captivating vocal performances, especially on “All the Way” and “Forgiveness.
Unlike The Truth, which has no features, Let Love Rule includes appearances from John Legend and BJ the Chicago Kid. The latter was the only appreciated contributor, although his vocal presence deserved more time to shine. “Give You More” with Legend finds Ledisi losing her distinctive vocals, while her co-star steals her thunder.
Although the album consists of 15 tracks, 11 are actual songs while the other four are non-exciting and unnecessary interludes from inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant and journalist Soledad O’Brien. There were definitely good intentions for their input, but their rest stops before the next track were merely constant interruptions.
Lastly, if it were not for the remarkable production, the title track would be a complete dud. It fails to underscore its purpose as a presumed standout track with less than memorable lyrics and a tiresome chorus.
Respectively, Let Love Rule is still one of the best R&B albums released this year. Make sure to grab a copy off shelves or add it digitally to your playlist now.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Standout Tracks: “Here,” “Forgiveness” and “All the Way”