Maysa | Love Is A Battlefield

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Maysa | Love Is A Battlefield
Shanachie Entertainment
by Peggy Oliver

Since her instantly recognizable voice graced the British Soul/Jazz outfit Incognito and Stevie Wonder’s Wonderlove, Maysa Leak continues to energize her own career by recording idyllic vocal treats for faithful international audiences. While she still keeps her feet wet with Incognito, the U.S. born singer remains very active in the recording studio, especially handling many cover tunes in her warm jazz-tinged alto, one of the many reasons she remains a bright spot for the smooth jazz market. Yet even for the most assured vocalists to confidently reinterpret the classics on a regular basis, song choice becomes a critical manner. One of the qualifiers for Maysa when picking material is looking for a positive aspect in the lyrics. Looking at her later catalog that includes Back to Love and Sweet Classic Soul, Maysa backs up her vocal dexterity and tone with re-imaginings of seventies soul standards. For her latest release, Love Is A Battlefield, covers representing soul, rock and pop are the order of the day under producer/musician Chris ‘Big Dog’ Davis, The Heavyweights and Jason Miles, and usually the results are favorable amongst a heavy dosage of slow jams.

Maysa’ special strengths are assured within the ballad zone, starting with “Can We Talk?”, a Tevin Campbell hit written by Babyface. Though this version does not deviate from the original, the beats are definitely pumped up. The Isley Brothers’ steamy “Footsteps in the Dark” drops a rousing duet with Jamie Jones of All 4 One, which overshadows the fairly thin production values. “Mr. Dream Merchant,” recorded successfully by Jerry Butler and New Birth, receives a very faithful makeover by Maysa, capped with a refreshing, crisp organic orchestration. Yet with all these gems, the title tracks delivers the ultimate highlight, flipping the bouncy new wave element from Pat Benatar’s eighties’ smash into a mesmerizing acoustic, finger snapping backdrop where Maysa’s gentle touch reigns.

Unfortunately, the gift of song choice on Love Is A Battlefield does flounder with “As Long As You Love Me.” Perhaps Maysa could have integrated her unique vocal qualities with a complimentary arrangement for Justin Bieber’s recent dance/pop hit, much like the title track. As for “Because It’s Really Love” from one of soul’s best stylists ever, Luther Vandross, Maysa provides a steady performance, even though the vocal is not quite up to Luther’s take. These aside, Maysa injects power and elegance for one of Natalie Cole’s signature pieces, “Inseparable,” (see video above) with a sweet saxophone solo. Contemporary jazz radio should absolute consider adding this to their playlists. Collectively, Love Is A Battlefield is just as satisfying as her whole catalog given the minor blips, simply because Maysa’s vocal talent and savvy is more than enough to carry the music through – covers or otherwise. Four and a half out of five stars.

Peggy Oliver
The Urban Music Scene

MORE Music Reviews on T.U.M.S.!:

Ricky Dillard | Choirmaster
Kelly Rowland | Coffee
Boney James | Solid
Keyboardist Jason Miles Big-Ups Black Icons with Black Magic
Sophisticated Soul Singer Will Downing Salutes Baritone Vocal Classics On Romantique Part 2
Second Outing from Corea McBride & Blade Finds Trio as Virtuous and Versatile as Ever
Fantasia | Sketchbook
Raphael Saadiq | Jimmy Lee
Poncho Sanchez | Trane's Delight
Jéssica Pina | Essência
Legends The Mighty O'Jays Bow Out with Soulful Sense of Purpose
Kirk Franklin | LONG LIVE LOVE
Amazing Grace: Aretha Brings The Mountaintop Down to South Central L.A.
New Orleans Offers Up A Sassy Blue Angel
Chaka Khan | Hello Happiness
The Return of The Undisputed Truth is a Sonic Blast From The Past
Shanice: The 'S' is for Steamy on No Sleep new single "He Won't"
London Jones | For You
John Legend | A Legendary Christmas
Will Downing | The Promise
Rhythm Tribe Introduces New Style, Acid Latin, With Return Single "You Can't Take Me Down"
Bob James Drops First Trio CD As A Leader in Over a Decade
Gabrielle | Under My Skin
Charlie Wilson and The O'Jays' Polar Extremes of Soul
Ramsey Lewis, Tower of Power, Anthony Hamilton and More Help Playboy Jazz Festival Turn 40.
Piano Wonder Joey Alexander's Third Outing Proves He's On The Path to Mastery
MeShell Pretzels and Dives Beneath The Surface of `80s & `90s Soul Hits
En Vogue | Electric Café
Sade | "Flower of the Universe" (From Disney's 'A Wrinkle In Time')
Peabo Bryson LIVE at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley - Seattle, Washington | March 2nd, 2018
Walter Beasley - The Best of Walter Beasley | The Affable Years, Volume 1
Sy Smith | Sometimes a Rose Will Grow in Concrete
Dr. Lonnie Smith | All in My Mind
Soul Man Owens' Country Cash Project Pays Off Some of the Time
Fantasia | Christmas After Midnight
Take 6 LIVE at Jazz Alley in Seattle, WA | Sept. 21st, 2017

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hide