Friday, October 12, 2007

LEDISI "Lost & Found" Verve Forecast

"LOST & FOUND" IS a particularly apt title for Ledisi's major-label debut, because for the past few years it seemed that the Bay Area-bred R&B vocalist would never receive the recognition due her. Now, thanks to a batch of new songs that vibrantly showcases her fiery and soulful voice, she can kiss her cult status goodbye.

The album's title track, however, doesn't concern career vicissitudes. It's a yearning ballad that brings out the plaintive beauty in Ledisi's voice, a romantic interlude bracketed by slippery funk grooves ("You & Me"), torchy confessions ("Best Friend"), sultry odes ("Think of You") and scat-laced, neo-soul diversions ("Upside Down"). The common thread is easy to detect: a voice strong, sassy and pliable enough to make most of the competition sound stiff. Consistently accessible and colorfully arranged, the album boasts a cleverly harmonized duet with Rahsaan Patterson on "We Are One," though nothing is more entertaining than Ledisi alone, demonstrating her vocal power and agility.

"Lost & Found" isn't flawless. A few routine lyrics seem unworthy of Ledisi's time. (They're certainly no match for her contributions to recent tribute albums saluting Luther Vandross and Ella Fitzgerald.) But it's hard to knock songs catchy enough to help make Ledisi a welcome presence on the airwaves.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing Friday at the Birchmere (703-549-7500, Show starts at 7:30.

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