Possibly not a name that will be familiar to everybody, Maysa is probably best known as the lead singer of British soul/jazz/funk outfit Incognito. Significantly, unlike her 1995 debut Maysa, this album is largely produced by the frontman of said group, Jean Paul “Bluey” Maunick. Originally released only in Japan on Rice Records this was always an album that deserved wider exposure. Now available in the U.K., thanks to British label Expansion, and with rumours of a possible U.S. release through N2K Encoded, it may begin to achieve the kind of success that is worthy of such quality material.
Save for a curious opening interlude “Aria De La MiaVita,” there are 11 tracks of note. Amongst these you’ll find an extremely classy modern soul dancer (“Compliments”), a dedicatory piece with an almost gospel-tinged chorus (“Earth Child”), and three tracks that would not be out of place on an Incognito album (“Mirrors,” “Hooked On Your Love,” and “Pressure”). On the more down-tempo side of things “Shadows And The Light” is a soothing piece of jazzy soul complete with some rather sublime sax work from Ed Jones, whilst “Blue Light” is an groovy ballad with some nice chorus harmonies.
Nevertheless, if one had to pick a standout cut it would be a contest between the title track and “Got To Be Strong.” With distinct echoes of Sade, “Got To Be Strong” is an extremely classy tale of fading love. However, just pipping it to the post is the somewhat haunting ode to a fantasy love not yet found “All My Life.” Maysa’s majestic vocals and harmonies are nothing less than captivating.
Unfortunately, some may feel that the overall quality of the album is somewhat undermined by the previously mentioned operatic ditty, a questionable danced-up cover of Gil Scott-Heron’s classic “The Bottle,” and a highly appealing yet completely out of place quasi-drum’n'bass track entitled “Closure”.
That said, these are but minor issues when one considers the wealth of quality to be found elsewhere. Aside from the overall strength of the material, one of the sets most appealing features is that of Maysa’s voice. In a world where many female vocalists are highly interchangeable her voice is a breath of fresh air. A top-drawer album from a highly talented vocalist.
// Notes from the Road
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