When we last reviewed a Ledisi album, we were pleasantly surprised at how much we wanted to listen to it again. Well…may “surprised” isn’t the right term; Ledisi has always shown herself to be a more than competent singer/songwriter with a solid grasp of how to reel the listener in. Usually for her, the problem is how to organize her amazing songs into a project that flows easily. That seems to be the biggest issue with this album, too, and that is really the most and most prominent of our problems.
Because Let Love Rule is a demonstration of what it means to love someone/something and still have enough love for yourself to not be a doormat and get taken advantage. Throughout the entire album, she speaks on the issues and downsides of love, making it clear that she is seeing things with both eyes open, but is always optimistic about what the future can hold. If this album is about anything, it’s about walking with purpose into love instead of falling wildly into it.
The vocals on this album are amazing. Ledisi is the kind of singer that comes with full-throated vocals and comes with her all to every song but never overwhelms the listener by trying to show out by doing vocals tricks that are meant to show just how good she is at what she does. She lets the song speak for itself and adapts to the mood and emotion as needed, making each moment a little aria in itself that sweeps the listener up and carries them along on her journey with very little effort. She has the runs and the adlibs to keep a track interesting, but never gets so caught up in those moments that the rest of the song feels dull by comparison. And when it comes to working with features, she manages to meld with them while still standing out and holding her own. This is definitely true of the BJ The Chicago Kid-assisted Us 4Ever as (in a first) we barely noticed him in the background until he came in for the third verse.
The production of the tracks are probably not going to entice a younger audience, but it would have been odd to hear the kind of nuanced take on love that she comes with being positioned over a trap beat. Ledisi, at her core, has always been a jazz/R&B singer and the production choices reflect that. While there are moments of adult contemporary funk and some things that lean more into pop or gospel in sections, she stays true to her roots for the sound of this one. The upside is that every track does work with her voice very well and she is always highlighted and supported by the rhythm. The downside is that, for some listeners, this is going to be a little dull for them as it’s not something you would think of banging in the whip.
The lyrics are a little better this time around, too. Mostly taking on the subject of love of another person, she frames each track in a way that, while not entirely new, makes you think about your own interactions with love and how you or the ones you love could have done things better or worked it out. The standalone track in the set is the very first, Shot Down, which takes on a solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and describes the “here today, gone tomorrow” nature of the existence of black men (and blackness in general). The song is good, but it does set an odd tone to start off with considering that no other track on the album has so much social relevance. It feels like it should have been a bonus at the end, but we understand that she may have wanted to get it out of the way before leading into more lighthearted fare.
As we said, the progression of the album really is the where things fall apart a little. While every segment of the album is laid out well, bracketed by introductions from Iyanla Vanzant and Soledad O’Brien, there isn’t as much of a flow between the sections themselves. There is a slight but noticeable jump in the style of both the vocals and production that isn’t whiplash-inducing but does make the changes in sections very noticeable. While that could have been an intentional choice, the segmenting of the songs feels less story-like and more theme-based so that some songs sound like they are talking about the same part of a relationship (beginning, middle, or end) just in different ways.
Despite that, though, this really is an enjoyable listen…especially for those who are look for something with a little substance of emotion without it being depressing. We cannot wait to see this woman come to our town on tour so we can shower her with all her flowers and our coins. Ledisi really deserves it all.
This was a hard set to narrow down, but our favorite tracks are Add To Me, Here, All The Way, Us 4Ever, and Give You More. The most skippable track is Hello.