Ledisi – Turn Me Loose (Verve Forecast)


RATING: 4.75/5

Ledisi Young has come a long way since her first album 2000’s Soulsinger. Whilst her debut failed to reach a mainstream audience it became an instant underground classic amongst lovers of quality soul music. On her follow up, 2002’s Feeling Orange But Sometimes Blue, Ledisi took a step away from the soul scene and released an album of reinterpreted jazz classics as well as some original material. Much like her debut, FOBSB didn’t make the singer a household name, but further cemented her place as one of the best vocalists of our time amongst those ‘in the know’.

It was 2007’s Lost and Found that really catapulted Ledisi onto the worldwide stage. The album garnered 2 Grammy nominations (Best New Act and Best R&B Album), and although she didn’t win in either category, it increased her profile greatly. To capitalise on her success she went on to release It’s Christmas (2008), a fantastic collection of holiday standards and original material.

August see’s the release of Ledisi’s latest album, Turn Me Loose. Here the singer is changing up styles yet again. Whereas Soulsinger and Lost and Found saw Ledisi sticking to more traditional neo-soul/adult contemporary format, Turn Me Loose has a more upbeat, younger sound (alebit one that still incorporates soul, R&B, jazz, rock and blues) that should see her generate a much larger fanbase whilst still appealing to her existing listeners.

This time around Ledisi has worked with a host of well known prodeucers. Her 2007 breakthrough was produced almost entirely by Rex Rideout (who makes a return here) but this time she has added, amongst others, Raphael Saadiq, Ivan Barias & Carvin Haggins, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and Carl ‘Chucky’ Thompson to the rosta.

A quick look at the tracklisting gives away the fact that there is a theme running through the album. A total of 4 tracks contain the word ‘change’ and it’s evident from both the content and style of the music that Ledisi has used this album as a vehicle to introduce her listeners to a different side of her musical personality. As already mentioned Ledisi touches on a number of musical styles here, ranging from the soul/rock of ‘Runnin’ and ‘Knockin’ (which conjure up images of Tina Turner), the bluesy ‘Turn Me Loose’, the smooth mid-tempo soul/R&B of ‘Higher Than This’, right through to the gutsy, soul/funk of ‘Them Changes’. It’s a credit to the lady herself that whilst there are a mixture of sounds and producers on the album, it still maintains a cohesiveness that is essential for any modern classic, an accolade which i’m sure will be bestowed upon this album in years to come.

For more information visit Ledisi’s myspace or her official site.