4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Lesson Learned Can Be A Triumph Earned,
This review is from: Where It All Begins (Audio CD)
A thoroughly wonderful album. And the best music I've honestly ever heard from Lalah Hathaway. On her previous album and Stax debut set Self Portrait she presented herself as someone caught between being her writing and the instrumentation. Perhaps it was a type of musical midlife crisis at that time. And than again,one might expect a lot from some equally as talented,intelligent and benevolent as her father had been. Now it's four years later and the R&B world is beginning to show signs of undergoing some changes. Something that hasn't been true of the music for a long time. It's begun to re-embrace the idea of intelligently written uptempo numbers that are more rhythmic than beat oriented and deliver on full on album concepts as opposed to the "singles n' filler" format so often used to sell records in different decades. This is someone with an extremely strong musical self conceptualization. And this album uses every side of that to the ultimate effect.
One of the key things that make this album different than the last is the energy level. On the emotional front it's equal in terms of passion but her method of expressing it is a lot different. "Strong Woman" and "Lie To Me" are perfect examples of modern uptempo R&B/funk with enough touches of contemporary production flavors to function for modern audiences. "My Everything" and in particular the sensual "Small Of My Back",which is my favorite tune on the album come fully to terms of urban "nu groove" style sophistifunk . There are actually a good number of slower songs too including her studio remake of her father's "You Were Meant For Me" and "Wrong Way" have this thick rhythmic backdrop which adds further power to their passionate,reflective lyrics. A duet between herself and Racelle Ferrell "I'm Coming Back" brings her to term again with the jazzier side of her sound. On some versions of this CD you also get two excellent bonus tracks-the potent,soulful message song "We're All In This Together" and the high octane disco-funk of "Lose Yourself".
Especially in an era where musical transition is a big presence, it's important that any major vocalist/songwriter/musician keep a strong focus on the music their delivering. And that's one of the qualities that make this album the potent listening experience it is. By presenting a broad pallet of music-from uptempo soul/funk to intricate jazzy ballads,all with more of a light sprinkling of a modern production touch than a huge saturation of it,Lalah presents her music in a manner that's very complimentary to her persona. This is one of those albums that is just about the most ideal thing she could possibly release at this point in her life and career. Her own persona outside that of her family AND within it are very much fully realized. And it's that personal and musical realization that makes this all the more a potent listening experience for myself especially.