Entertainment

New Ledisi Album is the Right Summer Find

Vocalist Taps Many Influences

Thank goodness for Ledisi, who takes us through the remainder of the summer with her new album “The Wild Card.” I get the impression that the title reflects the vocalist’s ability to make herself available to her diverse fan base.

“The Wild Card” drops on Aug. 28. The date is auspicious for many historic reasons. It was the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for the presidency. It is the anniversary date when slavery was abolished in the U.K.

The time is now for Ledisi’s latest creation “The Wild Card.” The first single from the album, “Anything for You,” a duet with P.J. Morton, has received airplay for the past few months.

“The prayer was to always release it at this time. I just didn’t know it would be so needed right now,” Ledisi said in an interview about the single.

“Anything for You,” was produced with one of Ledisi’s longtime collaborator Rex Rideout, one of the industry’s best-kept secrets who has been responsible for many hits since the early ’90s and has worked with artists such as Al Jarreau, Brian Culbertson, India.Irie, Angie Stone, Will Downing, Lalah Hathaway and many others.

“Next Time” is a selection on the album with opening guitar chords that took me back to a late ’60s to early ’70s songs from male R&B singers like Bobby Womack, Johnny Taylor or Willie Hutch. The guitar chords lead to a build up of drumming with Ledisi’s voice soaring above it all.

A soft start on the cut “Now or Never” is reminiscent of the Deniece Williams hit “Free.” Again, drums come in strong, leading Ledisi’s vocals to a style that sound like singing scales that go higher and stronger with each note. Her voice takes you comfortably up those scales. You want to see where the trek takes you. The lyrics are about love choices, wrestling with “to be or not to be,” a recurring theme on the album.

“On this album, I got to play around with background vocals more,” Ledisi said. “I’ve always produced my projects, but this time I had a lot of control over how I wanted it to be produced.”

The longing of loss is what we hear in “Same Love.” The lyrics take listeners through questions around trying to get “past the past” with love choices. There is a wonderful shift in tempo that feels like going from walking to skipping with this lyric, “I’m never too far, but you won’t let me closer. We’re better apart but we just can’t find closure … isn’t quite what we remember, but it’s the same love.” That would be the “reality check, snap out of it” line. The delivery is effective.

Ledisi’s other co-producer on “The Wild Card” is Robert Glasper, another musician, composer, and producer who has been recognized with many awards in the past few years. He also is in that contemporary jazz, R&B, neo-soul range, but add pop and rock to his list.

With their expertise, both Glasper and Rideout capture Ledisi’s ability to stroll effortlessly through multiple music genres. Adding “The Wild Card,” released on the BMG label from the multi-talented, award-nominated Ledisi is worthy of adding to your collection of summer sounds.

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