She was one of three Black female singers (Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia and Latoya London) voted into the bottom three in season three, and one of two unceremoniously dumped from American Idol, even though it appeared to most that she had one of the better voices. It was such a bizarre turn of events, it prompted Sir Elton John to publicly denounce the whole AI voting process as racist. Well, fret not - Someone once said, The best revenge is to do well. And on her new outing, Latoya London does just that.
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Her voice is pure, soulful and clear as a bell. Her intonation is similar to Whitney Houston in her early years - Similar, but not the same. She holds her own on songs notably produced by Barry Eastmond, Rex Rideout, and the incomparable Narada Michael Walden, and Narada doesnt just produce anybody . . . The roster of stars who he has helped to make famous are: Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Lisa Fischer - He produced the soundtracks for The Body Guard, Waiting to Exhale, Beverly Hills Cop II, License to Kill, Free Willy . . . and on and on. So when you see his name on a CD, you had better sit up and take notice. Youve heard the expression God dont make no junk? Well, Narada dont produce no stiffs.
This album thankfully resists the traditional Hip-Hop formula. It flirts a little with Pop, Jazz and R & B and the result is classy and seamless. It is not a earth-shattering offering, but it is an effort of which she can be proud. I enjoyed it tremendously. No Babys Mamas on here. From the modern effusive Scandalous which opens this CD to her cover of Eric Carmens All By Myself, she gives nothing less than her all. Not all the songs on here are gems, but they are well-produced, well sung and in most cases lyrically sound.
Particular stand-outs are Scandalous, Every Part of Me. Learn to Breathe, State of my Heart, I Cant Hide (Whats in my heart) and of course All By myself. There are also a few interesting though not totally engaging tracks, which serve to flesh out the balance of the CD.
If I have one criticism, is that occasionally she takes the safest route, when deciding which notes to sing, though it is evident she has the equipment. I suspect that as she acquires more experience on stage, gets more studio exposure, she will become a little more experimental and take chances. A couple of the songs, are less than inspiring, and had I not been reviewing them I would have pressed FF without a moments hesitation, but for the most part it's a solid effort.
Scandalous (** ½)
Every Part of Me (***) Very sensual mid tempo - Her voice is sweet and mellow in the background
Learn To Breathe (*** 1/2) Strong ballad, very mellow, reminiscent of Whitney Houstons Nobody Loves Me Like You Do, and ,Just The Lonely Talking again. Produced to let the beauty, simplicity and colors of the voice shine through.
Appreciate (***) An up-tempo tune, and the first single release and video - I found this pleasant but not a good sampling of her voice. Probably pushed because Black Thought from The Roots is the featured rapper...pleasant but just ear-candy. Three stars because I like the video.
State of My Heart (***) For you old heads, this is a grinding red-light in the basement type song. A pelvis to pelvis slow grind party. A soulful ballad that would be fantastic to hear playing in the background as you climb toward that all-encompassing orgasm.....(LOL)
Practice Makes Perfect (* ½) Pleasant filler. Nice beat - nothing special.
Meet Me Halfway (**) Good lyrics...laid-back, not offensive to the ears, but nothing special.
Waiting For You (**1/2) This song is too Whitney, and not one of the A, but rather one of the B tunes. It sounds as if she too is a little bored by it, though she pulls it out in the end.
Anything (*) I liked this song the least. Its pure filler.
Non A Watcha Do (*) ehhhh?
I Cant Hide (whats in my heart)(** ½*) Decent....mellow.
More (**) Good, but just one of too many decent ballads in a row, which makes it all sound a little monotonous by the time you reach this song.
How I Love The Rain (½*) This is a good song, but just didnt seem to fit her or the album concept. This song sounds more like a movie theme, or a transition number from a Broadway show.
All By Myself(****) She starts out singing this song just competently, but toward the end when she jumps octaves, it takes your breath away. I was amazed at her range, which was partially hidden for the rest of the album. Very soulful. The best of the entire package.
This CD is a stand-out as a singers debut. It is obvious the songs were picked, sung and produced with great care to reveal the various colors of this singers voice. Its not a debut like we experienced with Whitney or Mariah, but it is head and shoulders above whats currently out there.
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