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on July 19, 2008
Lalah Hathaway breathes fresh air into the regenerated Stax label with what is possibly her best album to date. It's definitely my favourite already. If you're anything like me, and you wonder where all the good music has gone, aghast at the ever-increasing paucity of deep meaningful soul and the ever-increasing dominance of superficial, gimmicky R&B, then this CD might reassure you. Lalah's lineage is not only clear in her warm vocal tone, style and phrasing but also in the kind of music she chooses to make. Donny would undoubtedly be proud.

Hathaway writes a great deal of the album herself (with co-writing credits mainly going to her producers) and Rex Rideout, who had critical success last year with Ledisi's Lost & Found, takes care of the majority of the production work. He and Hathway had worked together before but not to this extent. Hathaway herself takes up the rest of the production with help from Kenneth Crouch, Terrace Martin, Paula Gallitano and Manuel Hugas & Wiboud Burkens.

The album kicks off with the obviously radio-intended "let go", co-written and featuring vocals by my man Rahsaan Patterson and while a pleasant enough mid-tempo head-nodder (though personally I could have done without the vocoder), the song only hints at the magic to be found within the album. My personal favourites include the smooth jazz-influenced ballads "on your own", "for always", "that was then", "learning to swim" (which features fretless bass by Marcus Miller, no less), "little girl", (which actually contains the spoken voice of the great man himself; an interview excerpt from the album These Songs for You, Live!), "what goes around" and the brilliant album closer, "tragic inevitability".

Noteworthy if not a firm favourite right now, is "1 mile". It also sounds like it might have radio in mind. It certainly has a definite hip-hop/r&b edge and contains a rap I thought was by Andre 3000 when I first heard it but is actually by a dude called Andre Edwards aka "Bokie".

This is definitely high quality music - in my opinion of course - with deep, steamy bass lines and jazzy keyboard chords, and I say a huge thank you to Lalah Hathaway for giving us something decent to listen to for a change. Decidedly recommended.

Also highly recommended: 2004's Outrun the Sky, 1999's The Song Lives On (with Joe Sample) and even 1990's Lalah Hathaway. For me, the Gary Taylor ballad "i'm coming back" and the Angela Winbush one, "i gotta move on" are worth the price of that last CD I mentioned, all on their own.
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on June 4, 2008
While Lalah has indeed evolved into her own as an artist, obvious and unavoidable comparisons to her famous dad are inevitable, especially by those of us intimately aware of his treasure trove of work....the timbres of their voices are oh so similar and in many cases are a painful reminder of the awesome talent that was Donny Hathaway, who left us entirely too early. Nonetheless, this is indeed a mature set allowing Lalah to show off her simply woooooooonderful vocal skills/acuity. Thankfully, it is not a cheap attempt to grab a hip-hop/now audience, thus trashing a beautiful instrument...it is appropriately marketed to grown folks. Nice, smooth, arrangements make Lalah's latest project refreshing and satisfying. ("Breathe' is definitely a highlight)

Hiiiiiiighly recommended!
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on April 10, 2008
One of the most outstanding things about Lalah Hathaway, is her ability to transit a melody to a destination that's by far exciting and unique!

Her phraseology is incomparable and her delivery is spell bounding...when it comes to carrying a tune, she owns it once she's placed her stamp on it!

Her level of musicianship is beyond measure!

and deserves much attention.

I only anticipate as everyone one else her upcoming offering!

It is sure to be nothing short of amazement and wonder...
But don't just take it from me, see for yourself and get the record!

D. Patterson
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on June 3, 2008
I'll admit the first time I got a Lalah project it was because she had that NAME. I realize now she made me feel connected to something I lost. Just listened to what I thought I needed. Time passes and now I "hear her divine" speaking through her. On "Self Portrait" Lalah is emerging with a voice so clear and loud you will not miss her. She's says it's nature and nurture. OK I say I finally found what I really needed and like she says "That Was Then, This is Now". Universe we better recognize!!!!
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on September 9, 2008
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on March 21, 2014
If you loved the father you have got to at least like the daughter. I really think you will feel the same way about Lalah. Donny Hathaway had a beautiful voice. He sounded better live than in the studio ( my opinion). I said that to say this. Some things you cannot buy nor learn. Either you got it or you don't got it. Lalah Hathaway has it. A nice smooth voice. Didn't take my word, purchase and listen.
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on June 3, 2008
I'm speechless. I've listened to Self Portrait all day. I'm still blasting "Breathe" as I write from my home office...windows open...I know the cops may come soon. LOL

Beautiful...I am an OLD young (33 year old) Lalah fan. I've been listening from highschool...and she is just amazing. "Self Portrait" is very introspective. I would also recommend not driving...this IS THINKING MUSIC. "On Your Own" is a great song to have when going through a breakup. I felt really strong after listening to it. Like its gonna be ok. Im gonna be ok. When songs make you change your mind about life...THATS DEEP.

NO ONE WRITES MUSIC LIKE THIS...EVERY SONG..empowering, requires inwardness, its a smart person's CD.
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on February 8, 2014
i only recently became familiar with lalah hathaway after seeing her in concert with robert glasper. #awe ...i decided on this cd based on the reviews, and what a wonderful investment it is. ...i put my iPod on repeat and listen to it continuously. her voice is so soothing and earthy. ...this CD is it!
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on December 19, 2012
No matter what type of music you to, Lalah Hathaway's Self Portrait should be in your collection. It has so many dynamics it's hard to name them all. The mood, tone, music and vocals weave together so well you never get tired of listening to it.

Lalah's ability to draw you in with her melodic alto is the focus of this album definitely, but it is highlighted so well by the musical execution that it moves me to tears at times. One of the best albums I've heard in long time. I will always be a fan!
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on February 21, 2010
Can't really say much, since everything I wanted to say about this album has already been said! This music is for those who have a great appreciation for REAL soul music. Her vocals are very reminiscent of her late father, the great Donny Hathaway.

Lalah really brought some gems to this album! This is one of those albums you can actually listen to from front to back. It really puts you in the mind of deep relaxation and serenity, like you have no care in the world!

I highly recommend this album and implore you to add it to your music collection!
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