Remember LaToya London? If you watched American Idol in season three you probably do. She was voted off once the competition whittled down to four and to say it was controversial to say the least. Her voice is pure, powerful and moving. Although I do think Fantasia deserved to win, I can't really see how Diana DeGarmo managed to get ahead of London. But since I didn't vote I guess I can't complain. Then again, neither can she. She's on tour with Jaguar Wright, has a new impressive album and doesn't seem to be taking it too hard.
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The album gets off to a slow start with the mellow club bump of "Scandalous". Although the track is melodic and well performed there is nothing particularly exciting. The song is a little more intelligent than other club tracks thanks to mature lyrics. She talks about her and her man going out and pretending not to know each other. That's really the only thing that sets it apart from every other club friendly track around.
"Every Part of Me" improves but once again is not material that even begins to show what this AI veteran is capable of. It's a friendly, but musically vague moment on the album that passes without note. The guitar is very basic, the drums are canned and the melody is nondescript. Sounds pretty but it's filler. I feel like I've heard this song many times before.
Then Latoya finally unleashes her voice on us and the result is nothing short of fantastic. "Learn To Breathe" is definitely an awe inspiring moment and she gives a performance that rivals all those "believe in yourself" anthems that have come out over the years. It's flawless. If she gets a chance on radio this could easily be "The Greatest Love of All" or "Hero" for a whole new generation. (If you don't like either of those songs then you probably won't like this one.The success is all due to London's vocal performance. The music is standard piano and strings with the requisite gospel choir.
The next song is the second song on the album that is engaging and vibrant. "Appreciate". Featuring Black Thought from The Roots is very smooth, her soprano flirty and sweet against a breezy production. The video kind of sucks though. Her voice isn't the only thing reminscent of Whitney Houston,her dancing is pretty similar as well. Basically a shout out to the man in her life and appreciating him for who he is.
"State Of My Heart" is a beautiful, torch ballad about being in love and how vulnerable it can make you. Featuring a resigned horn section, some dramatic strings and a voice filled with emotion the song works nicely. I can't say its original but she certainly doesn't ruin the concept.
"Practice Makes Perfect" is a charming midtempo cut that's not groundbreaking but still something you probably will like if you're an R&B fan. I've heard a lot of songs like this one but that's ok because I liked them all. The lyrics are laiden with little mini hooks that never snatch you but tug on you invitingly. It's another winning track.
"Meet Me Halfway" is another ballad that plays off her strengths. I've heard a song like this one before as well. For some reason she keeps making me think of Deborah Cox even though her voice isn't really the same. Just the songs sound like what you might of heard on her One Wish album. "Waiting For You" is another ballad that's beautiful and inspirational. Once again I am reminded of another artist, Yolanda Adams. It has a sincere, pure sound that is easy to enjoy and hard to scoff at. It lures out the hopeful and optimistic part of you.
"More" is a sunshine kissed little gem towards the end of the album and is filled with soul and sweetness. It has a great merging of seventies and eighties that really is appealing. Her voice is definitely the center of the song and she really captivates you with her sexy and feminine sound.
"How I Love The Rain" is such an amazing performance and it really shows off her voice. Just a piano and some very light accents from a synthesizer hang back and her voice just fills you up. I'm almost positive this is a cover although I am not completely sure. It's exquisite though. It makes you wonder what America was smoking when she got voted off before Diana DeGarmo.
Also included is her impressive but futile cover of "All By Myself", a cover of Celine Dion's cover of someone else who for all I know may have covered it as well. Anyway, it's safe to say the music industry has this song adequately covered.
The fact about this album is although it's not really original it's consistent and very enjoyable. Sure, she gives a healthy obvious nod to pretty much every silky voiced diva around but it's one of respect. Most importantly, LaToya London has impeccable taste in who she has chosen as inspiration. I am sure she will grow over the next few albums. In the meantime, I will let her remind me why I love R&B.