The Truth (Deluxe Edition) * Ledisi * R&B/Soul * March 11, 2014
Eight-time Grammy nominee Ledisi started out in 1995 with her group Anibade. When she couldn’t get the group signed to a major label, she started her own. While Anibade gained regional fame, Ledisi gained more attention for the strength and tenor of her voice. She released her first solo album in 2000 and began touring with her former group. Her second album garnered her the attention of label Verve Forcast and, once she released her first major label release Lost & Found, she slowing began climbing the ladder of prominence in the music world.
Something that lent to that prominence is that Ledisi seemed to not sex up her lyrics and image and, instead, seemed to focus on content that could be construed as sexy without being over-the-top and raunchy. It allowed her to stand apart from her many of her contemporaries.
Now, with the release of her seventh album, Ledisi has decided to put a little more focus on the sexy side of herself. Can she do it without completely selling out the image of stable womanhood that many of her fans find refreshing amongst so much sexpot imagery?
1. I Blame You – Immediately upon hearing this song, the first thing you might think is that you might have accidently started playing Beyoncé’s Love on Top. The songs have a strikingly similar progression and, while this song is definitely better (Love on Top only had one verse in its entire three minutes), the fact that there are no writers in common on either production makes me think that this is a little more purposeful than it might seem, especially considering that this was the first single. About blaming her lover for her being happy and in love, the juxtaposition between the title and the content here is excellent and well carried throughout.
2. Rock with You – The lyrics here a little confusing, but Ledisi is telling her lover that he is her drug and that she would do anything to be with him. The confusing part is that, in the bridges, she seems to assert that she is unsure that he feels the same about her which then goes into the chorus that proclaims that’s why she is with him. The intro and outro of the song are also a little off: I’m on it/I want it/So hot and/Give me a mic and I’ll rock it/’Cause my love for you goes non-stop, eh. I think you can assume that this song is meant to be a single in the future, but nothing about it screams memorable. The upbeat production does save the song from the mediocre lyrics.
3. That Good Good – This song also has a surprising content depth that seems to run counter to the title of the song. The good-good she is referring to is an honest and real love that is based on something, not just sex. A song that many women can get behind, it proclaim she has more to offer than just her body. But while the message is good, the production here is what takes this song down a little. While the verses and chorus are excellently sung, the bridges contain those poppy handclaps and out-of-place Caribbean accents that are meant to make the song stand out and, instead, do the opposite.
4. Lose Control – Ledisi is telling her man that she is she is going to give him the night of his life one he gets home. The lyrics her are simple and straightforward, with the bare minimum of innuendo, but it doesn’t really hurt the song. The production is excellent (minus the obligatory vocal scratches) and it accomplishes what songs like this are supposed to-setting a mood. What really shines here is Ledisi’s vocals; they are perfect. She neither oversings or undersings, giving just the right amount of sex appeal without sounding out of breathe or desperate.
5. Like This – This song is a slam dunk and a great representation of what Ledisi is capable of as an artist. A song about being in a relationship with someone that is holding on to so much old relationship baggage that it is blocking their current one, the content is something that a lot of people can relate to. The vocals are on point as well, with Ledisi pleading from a place of strength and self awareness, and well set against the mellowness of the track.
6. Anything – A song that says supporting her partner is a better or worse proposition, this is another solid track. The lyrics are expressive and make it clear that the support she gives is based in a strong love. While the beatwork seems like a generic ballad at first, Ledisi absolutely takes control of this song vocally. Had her vocals been weaker, the song would have been to generic, but anymore emphasis on the production would have made it overpowering. A memorable track for all the right reasons.
7. The Truth – The title track, it is surprising that an album that is mostly about love is named after a track that is about the moment in the relationship when you realize that it’s not going to work. Again, Ledisi’s vocals are the beautiful flourish on what could have easily been a generic track for any other singer. Her tone is emotionally expressive without being over the top, which will make anyone going through it either tear up or find strength in the track’s message.
8. Missy Doubt – The 70’s production style is really the highlight here as the lyrics, about admitting that she doubted the love her man has given her and pledging not to do it again, are not anything you haven’t hear before. It is by no means a bad track, though, as it will get you singing along and possibly dancing. Ledisi’s vocals are great, but are a little overblown in a few sections when teamed with the more verbose beatwork.
9. 88 Boxes – About the how hard it is to move on after a relationship has ended, this really good track. While Ledisi’s vocals are little much at times, the anguish in her voice makes those moments easier to bare. The lyrics here are strong, too; they float between the indecisiveness of wanting to give up on something you have devoted so much time to and the strength of knowing that you have to do what’s best for you. The stabbing production adds emotional depth to the piece and makes this, despite a few flaws, a standout track.
10. Can’t Help Who You Love – This is a really good song because it could apply to the spectrum of romantic relationships. This simple lyrics are not a problem because the manage to distill a broad concept into something more relatable than most songs that try to tackle the same subject. The toned-down vocals are an excellent compliment to the floating production and makes it sound like Ledisi is explaining the concept to a lover instead of trying to defend the relationship to someone who doubts it.
11. Mine (Bonus Track) – There is something about this 80’s inspire track that is absolutely danceable. Upon putting on this song you will want to get to your feet and grab the closest person to swing around the floor with. It’s the lyrics that take this song down. Ledisi is pleading with a man that has made a fool out of her before to take her back because she knows that they were meant to be. Similar to Rock with You, the concept seems to jump around a little with the inclusion of block about asking someone else to come a free her from the lover’s spell before declaring that she would still like to be with him.
12. I Swear (Bonus Track) – At first listen, about this song sounds really familiar, and it’s not until the second half of it that you realize that it seems to be a melding of I Blame You and Anything. The concept, about swearing to be with her significant other until the end of time and giving him whatever he needs, is nothing you haven’t heard before and the vocals and production don’t really save it. Unless you are feeling lovey-dovey about someone, this is a song that you will likely skip or will fade into the background.
13. Quick Fix (Bonus Track) – This is an odd song to end on, as it is about how the other person in her relationship needs to start doing more for her or she will leave. While the standard edition ends with Can’t Help Who You Love, this is not as uplifting an end as that. Ledisi’s vocals are fiery and the guitar and drum heavy beat highlight them, but this is definitely a throwaway track.
This is a solid album but, for purchasing power, I would stick with the standard edition. The deluxe tracks seem to be there just because and actually take the album down in stregnth from what it was up through track ten. Still, this is something that I would highly recommend to someone looking for a grown-and-sexy album that does not focus entirely on sex.