So What's In Heavy Rotation . . . On Your iPod / MP3 Player / Computer / CD Player?
One of the first things I did upon my return from the Cleveland area was go out and pick up Lalah Hathaway's lastest, Self-Portrait (2008). Making the purchase has been at the top of my "to do" list for the longest, especially after listening to Ms. Hathaway speak and sing live on some BETJ program, not too long ago. The only reason I hadn't picked it up before now is because I've just been too busy.
I've enjoyed Lalah's music since she first appeared on the scene. But I didn't become a real fan until one night in Cleveland, several years ago, while I was standing at the sink, washing dishes, listening to the radio and wishing I was elsewhere, when I heard this breath-taking cover of "Forever, For Always, For Love." While listening to the song, which in my book had long been a "Luther" song, I literally froze, cocked my head to the side and muttered, "Good Lord, who is that?!" before wiping my hands dry and rushing over to crank up the volume.
Before I left for my most recent trip the Cleveland area, I'd been jamming to The Song Lives On, a Joe Sample cd, featuring Lalah Hathaway and that came out in 1999. The cuts on The Song Lives On are nice enough, but trust and believe, the songs on Self-Portrait and Lalah's skillful handling of them are on the other side of FABULOUS.
Very seldom do I buy a cd (or album) and find myself reaching for the repeat button for more than two or three songs. But when it comes to Self-Portrait, it's been difficult to come up with a short list of favorites. No lie, there are 12 tracks on this cd and I've found a little something about everyone of them to love.
Of course, I can't get enough of the single that's been getting the most radio play, "Let Go," and the song which follows it, "Breathe" ain't half bad either. Lalah's voice on the 6th song on the cd, "Learning to Swim" is so perfect and pure, it's haunting. "Little Girl," the 8th song is touching, not only because it contains an excerpt from an interview with Donny Hathaway (Lalah's father, for the one or two of you who don't know), but also the following refrain: "just a little girl in a big world / hiding in the shadow of the light/ just a little girl in a big world/ listen to the voice of your divine." Everything time I hear that refrain, a voice inside of me shouts, "Have mercy girl, go 'head and preach then! (smile).
If we lived in another day and time (say like back in the '70s and early '80s) the 9th song, "What Goes Around," would be copping plenty of radio air time, if only because it's a "message" song that contains some hard-hitting universal truth. But the icing on the cake, as far as the song is concerned, is you can hear Lalah's daddy, Mr. Donny all up in this song. It's almost as if she's found a way to reach up into the heavens and musically channel him and his genius.
If you think I'm done, PLEASE (LOL). I'm just now getting to my favorite section of the cd, which at this point in time, are those last three songs, #10, 11 & 12. Song #10, "Naked Truth" is typically where I start the cd. I'm saying, this song, which is actually a duet of sorts with Rahsaan Patterson, has a real funky, juke-joint, slow-grind feel about it. Yup, something about it appeals to my nappy edges and deep southern delta roots. The song after it, #11, "Udo" is one of those jump in your car and ride songs. You ever looked over in the car next to you and seen a lone woman who has her window rolled up, but you can tell by the steady bob and sway of her head and shoulders, she's really into whatever she's listening to? Yeah, "Udo" is one of those songs (smile).
And #12, the last song, "Tragic Inevitability" is another one of those cuts owning that "haunting" quality about it. The song's mood reminds me of something from Terri Lyne Carrington's Real Life Story . . . Yeah, I know, most of y'all young'uns are saying WHO?! WHAT?! Anyway, Ms. Terri Lyne is a drummer and who, back in the day, was the house drummer for Arsenio Hall's show (remember him?). Not only can Carrington beat the hell out of some drums, her vocals aren't half bad either. If anyone knows where I can cop a cd version of Real Life Story to replace my worn-out cassette tape, let me know (smile).
Yes, the songs from Lalah Hathaway's Self-Portrait are what I'm jamming 24/7 at the moment. I'm impressed that she had a hand in penning just about all of the tunes in the compilation. Also, y'all know, the STAX connection is right down my alley (Memphis in Da House!) And sistergirl's voice, WOW, it's so smooth it reminds me of melted caramel . . . you know, creamy, bearing a hint of brown and owning a buttery sweetness that stays with you for a long time.
So . . . what's currently bumping through your musical rotation?