Tuesday, August 05, 2008

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?


Emanuel Carpenter said...

Hey Lori,

Like you, I rarely buy music anymore. My tastes are really diverse. Anyway, who I'm really feeling today is Kelly Sweet on the smooth jazz radio stations. I also like Colbie Cailat. My most recent purchases have been Kanye West and Ne-Yo. Also, I think Leona Lewis (Bleeding Love) has a dynamic voice.

Anywho, my next purchases will be the CDs of three ladies I mentioned. Still, most of music listening is done via drive time or on YouTube.

You should have stayed in Cleveland a little longer. Your girl Jill Scott will be here this weekend.

Lori said...

I don't think I've ever heard of the three ladies you mentioned. Since I'm always on the lookout for something new and improved, I'll probably check them out. My son has the new Ne-Yo. I actually like both Ne-Yo and Kanye, but I haven't purchased any of their music yet.

Cleveland is kind of late on the Jill Scott tip (smile). She's been here twice already and was in the Memphis area in either April or May, if I'm not mistaken. But hey, if you run into her, let her know I really want her to play Faye in the movie version of After The Dance (LOL).

pjazzypar said...

I have been a fan of Lalah's work since she came on the scene in 90. I saw her and Joe Sample when I lived in California. I will definitely buy this one. Thanks for the heads up!

MR said...

Here’s what I've been rotating for the last several weeks:

Gipsy Kings have apparently been around a long time but I’ve just discovered them and can’t get enough! On Wikipedia I saw that they are from France. Their music was described as “a place where Spanish flamenco and Romani rhapsody meet salsa funk”. They sing and play with great passion and when they go up-tempo you can’t help but move…somethin’! I’ve been burning up their “Best of” CD.

Ray LaMontagne’s “genre” is listed as “folk/folk rock” but he’s so much more. He’s soulful…bluesy…so unique and yet I hear echoes of many others in his songs. He’s got some really great lines in his lyrics. He’s the one I told you his raspy voice reminds me of smoked honey (or something like that…I can’t remember what I said). His 2 albums are “Trouble” and “Till the Sun Turns Black”. A 3rd album is due out in Oct. called “Gossip in the Grain”.

Patty Griffin is a jewel of the heart. Beautiful, beautiful songs and wonderful, unique, thought provoking lyrics. Been hitting repeat on 4 of her CDs.

…and, of course, you know, Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam is never far from my CD player. Still ridin’ the Peace Train.

I love it when you do “what’s everybody listening to or reading?” posts. I get so many great ideas for new things to try. I’m not familiar with Lalah Hathaway and can’t wait to give her a listen. Your description of her is magnificent.

Lori said...

Hey MR,
Long time, no hear from (smile). I guess I'm gonna have to browse the web and see if I can't come up with some listening samples for all of the folks you mentioned. Seems like I've heard some of Ray LaMontagne's material. Of course, I know about Cat/Yusuf. Maybe, when I get a free moment, I'll jump on that peace train with you (smile).

Malcolm said...

Excellent CD review on your part Lori. I went over and sampled some of the tracks on Borders.com.

A CD that I recently picked up is "Nudge It Up A Notch" by Steve Cropper (the guitarist for Booker T. and the MGs) and Felix Cavaliere (the lead singer of The Rascals). As is Lalah's CD, this is also a Stax release.

As for Terri Lyne's CD, it looks like you can buy it here:


If the URL is cut off, just go to www.vervemusicgroup.com and do an srtist search.

Lori said...

NUDGE IT UP A NOTCH, sounds interesting. I just might have to check it out.

Much thanks for the vervemusicgroup info. I'm going to have set aside a block to time to just hang out over there and browse (LOL). I'm sure I'll run across a number of things I'll want to add to my music collection and also purchase as gifts for others. You Da Man! (smile)

Lawrence said...

As a HUGE Mint Condition fan, I always have a little of them in EVERY playlist. I'm really feeling the latest release "E-Life", particularly "Goldigger" and "Gratitude". I've actually picked up Sara Bareilles as well. I love that song "Love Song". "Bottle it Up" is mighty nice also. Israel & New Breed's "A Deeper Level" is beyond words... Praise and worship that goes waaayyyy deeper than the surface. As someone who came of age in the 90's (1992 HS graduate) I'm getting back into the New Jack Swing era also... Today, Guy, Intro, MJB's My Life, etc. I guess I'm pretty much all over the place ;~)