Lost & Found
- Monday, September 29, 2008
"I was running away from the love you gave me/Wanted a life but everything was crazy/Unsure of love, I needed love/Then came you, you were like the springtime/You make everything new … You were there for me/You never left one." —from "The One
Recording artist Ledisi Young knows a little something about being lost. After nearly ten years, two independent records, a brief stint on Broadway, and a faulty record deal, the Bay area singer was still largely unknown, underground, and underpaid. Having slowly made a name for herself in regional black music circles, the neo-soul singer first introduced her golden pipes to the mainstream when she covered Luther Vandross' "My Sensitivity" on the 2004 tribute album Forever, For Always, For Luther.
It wasn't until 2007 that Ledisi (pronounced Led-duh-see) really began to gain ground. Verve signed the indie phenomenon and gave her enough attention to elicit the national recognition she had been working towards. First there were contributions to a couple other tribute albums from the record label: We Love Ella and Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth Wind & Fire. Then, a few months later, Ledisi upped the ante—and her profile—by finally dropping her major label debut Lost & Found, a slick soiree of traditional soul and modern R&B that garnered her two Grammy nominations in 2007 for Best New Artist and R&B Album of the Year. Three years in the making, Lost & Found marries the tasty sounds of her native New Orleans with a proper UC Berkley training to deliver sixteen distinct tracks on life and love, combining wily jazz licks and streetwise R&B hooks.
The title cut begins sets the tone, as well as Ledisi's meaningful search for love and purpose. A lone piano and distressing violin form a haunting accompaniment for her exquisitely raw vocal, personifying the often lonely quest for greater meaning: "Lost not yet found, breathing in misery/Hope lurks around, when will the sun ever shine on me/I need love to come and carry me, take me away/Please someone find me."
"I can talk about the lost side of things—spiritually, musically, and personally," Ledisi told Lee Bailey's EURweb in an interview after Lost & Found's release. And her complicated path from itinerant songstress to paid professional rarely followed the straight and narrow, as reflected in her album's title. "It's from 'Amazing Grace': I once was lost, but now I'm found. It has a lot to do with having faith."
In a song her official bio describes as "so reverent that it really couldn't be about anything else but loving the Lord," "Think of You" pays homage to God's omniscient qualities, recounting the practical and supernatural ways he is daily present: "I can't help but feel you all around me, feel you everywhere/You bring me peace of mind, you bring joy to my soul/Everywhere that I go every day every night/I think of you/You're the air that I breathe, you're the love of my life/I think of you."
With vocal chops rivaling Patti LaBelle, scats often comparable to Ella Fitzgerald, and the sheer soulfulness of Chaka Kahn (with whom she appeared on AOL's "The Bridge" last fall), Ledisi is performs with vocal adlibs so passionate, they convict even when the lyrical content is spiritually less specific. In "Upside Down", a fitting commentary on the state of society and its need for repair, the spirited singer admonishes, "World are you listening?/World pay attention/World, where is your heart?/World, love gave us this start …Preachers, tell us about the light so we can learn to live right/I see everybody's looking for the answers."
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