New Orleans Offers Up A Sassy Blue Angel

Quiana Lynell
A Little Love
(Concord Jazz)

A Record Reflection by A. Scott Galloway

New Orleans-based vocalist Quiana Lynell is in possession of a sweet and special advantage, evidenced in her year-in-the-making debut album, A Little Love. That quality is the perception of effortlessness… Her voice seems to float from her mouth in a zero-gravity zone all its own. Her delivery is surely full and rich but feels like a natural extension of her being – a perfectly-pitched presence that confidently seems to say, “You’re gonna love you some me.”

Quiana makes sure the maximum amount of people will get that opportunity with the broad range of material she introduces herself with here. Opening with the unifying anthem “We Are,” she is a messenger straight from the gate with a song about the eternal search for self – individually and as a generation. Elsewhere, there are fun renditions of lesser covered songs from the Gershwins (“They All Laughed” – a vocal duet with drummer Jamison Ross) and Mack Gordon (“You Hit The Spot”). The album title A Little Love references her dreamy rendering of Mann/Weil’s enduring `60s wake-up sex waltz “Just a Little Lovin’ (Early in the Mornin’)” while her take on Love Unlimited’s “Move Me No Mountain” (later covered by Chaka Khan, too) finds her perfectly building the soul spin to a satisfying climax. Blessedly, this is followed by a heady yet hopeful medley of Ellington’s “Come Sunday” with Billy Taylor’s “I Wish I Knew (How it Would Feel to Be Free).”

Quiana’s most powerful performances are her sassy whirl through New Orleans Soul queen Irma Thomas’ “Hip Shakin’ Mama,” the Donny Hathaway/Leroy Hutson reality primer “Tryin’ Times” and the Black fist in the air power closer “Sing Out March On.”

Surrounded by an adoring and buoying group of musicians at her back including her champion and producer Brian Michael Bacchus, Cyrus Chestnut on piano and vibraphonist Monte Croft (who composed the thoughtful “What is Love”), Lynell steps out poised and proud on her consistently engaging debut, A Little Love.

A. Scott Galloway
Music Editor
The Urban Music Scene
April 5, 2019