Once in a while we experience a musician whose talent is unparalleled with anyone that we’ve ever seen before. In my life time, when I think about phenomenal talent – I can’t help but think about iconic musicians such as Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross and Marvin Gaye.
But only once in a lifetime will we get a musician who has the innate ability to tap into your soul on such a simplistic level that you can’t help but be touched and positively affected by their artistry, their story and the calming soothe they possess.
Her voice is mellow, smooth, pristinely rich, warm, welcoming and possesses a depth that is unknown to most human ears. She is Lalah Hathaway.
It was 1990 when Lalah made her debut with her self titled CD in which I immediately became a fan. The heavy drums and the mellow depth of her voice on “Baby Don’t Cry,” sucked me in and left me wanting more.
Most people know her simply as Donny Hathaway’s daughter, but there is more to it than that. This, her 4th solo CD, “Self Portrait” her debut on Stax Records, Lalah takes an introspective look at self, while healing people in the process, steps out of her fathers legacy (not that she has been in the shadow, people just like to place you there because of the name)and solidifies her place in music history.
Throughout the years Lalah has worked with several phenomenal musicians from Take 6 to Marcus Miller to Joe Sample in which they recorded 1999’s “The Song Lives on” a duet CD that made her a household name and let us know that she was still in the game.
18 years after her debut, voice still in tact, looking better than ever (not very many artists can say that) and a message loud and clear, Lalah stands front and center as she gets ready to take the world by storm – letting everyone in on who she is, who she was and who she is becoming.
“Self Portrait,” is a feel good CD, therapy for 10.00 if you will. I really feel like Lalah heard the cries of the world, connected with them and gave back something to ease the pain we all endure from relationships, bad experiences and consistent let downs. The 12 track set, which is a complete play through from start to finish, takes you on a journey of renewal – allowing you to “Let Go,” “Breathe” and bringing you to the point of understanding that no matter what you go through “That was Then,” and you should focus on the now and she reiterates that “What Goes Around,” comes back around so you shouldn’t worry about what you don’t have control over.
The CD, an adult contemporary set is a free-flowing, mellow release of artistic heaven that one must experience and not take for granted.
Lalah is one of the very few artists, besides Rahsaan Patterson that is vocally and lyrically consistent. If you’re a fan you can see the consistency which makes her who she is. Her voice is in the best and most rare form from what I can remember. And she jokingly says sometimes, “live not Memorex” which is the truth, because Lalah is the only artist in which her records do her no justice – she sounds 100 times better live and if you’re lucky, you’ll experience it one day.
Hands down, this is one of the BEST CD’s of all time, coming in closely behind Stevie Wonders’ “Songs in the Key of Life,” if not surpassing it. In fact it is very much the modern day version of that disc. It’s almost if as Lalah tapped into the legacy of her father and used her natural flow of soul, jazz and gospel to yield a timeless classic that will heal the soul and restore order to lost generations.
One thing is clear Lalah understands who she is and in that understanding; she can empathize with others. In the world as it turns, we all hurt the same and in dire need of love and compassion. Lalah gives you that with Self Portrait.
My favorite tracks: Let Go, Breathe, On Your Own, That Was Then (My ultimate favorite – this song speaks to my soul!!!), What Goes Around
But the CD is an entire play through.
In closing I want to add that while this is different from my usual CD reviews…you must understand that this isn’t a review, but an experience that I can describe in hopes that you while pick up the CD and listen for yourself.
If you’re tired, misunderstood, angry, going through something…you’ll be glad that you purchased this, it makes everything clear.