Lady: Lady

Truth and Soul's latest act mix R&B's past and present.



Label: Truth and Soul
US Release Date: 2013-03-11
UK Release Date: 2013-03-04

Lady is a new female duo composed of the singers Terri Walker and Nicole Wray. Walker hails from England; she debuted in 2003 with a soulful album that earned a nomination for the Mercury Prize, and she has released several albums since then. Wray released a solo album, Make It Hot, in 1998, and the title track -- which contained a verse from Missy Elliot and production from Timbaland -- earned gold status. Since then, Wray has worked with many other artists, including Cam’ron, Mike Jones, and Blakroc (a side project of the band the Black Keys that connects their brand of bluesy rock with rap), contributing vocals and hooks. Both women are experienced musicians fluent in the languages of soul, funk, modern R&B, and hip-hop.

The two women have now joined forces with each other, and with Brooklyn’s Truth and Soul label. Truth and Soul has been making two types of important contributions in the last few years: it has had a hand in both digging up and reissuing great old tunes. See the recent Loving on the Flip Side compilation, or the reissue of the Ghetto Brothers’ Power Fuerza as proof. But the label does not limit itself to excavating the past; it also creates music that updates the sounds of soul and funk from the '60s and '70s by working with older singers like Lee Fields and younger faces like Aloe Blacc and Liam Bailey.

From the beginning of Lady’s self-titled debut album, the presence of Truth and Soul is clear in the heavy rhythm section’s crisp percussion and solid groove, the gleaming guitar leads that shimmer clearly, and the punchy horns. There are echoes of the past; “Please Don’t Do It” has an effortless '60s swing, “Money” draws on KC & the Sunshine Band’s “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong”, and Archie Bell and the Drells’ “Tighten Up” peeks through during “Sweet Lady”. Fittingly, there are also touches of the present. “Habit” starts with the sort of descending progression that often appears on Lee Fields’ records, and “Waiting on You” possesses some similarities to Adele’s “I’ll Be Waiting” (the Truth and Soul team has worked with Adele in the past). Everything is precise and pristine, not a note out of place.

For all traditional Truth and Soul touches, this is not just another Truth and Soul release. For one thing, this is one of the first albums from the label with female vocalists. In addition, soul is often the province of the lone vocalist, or a primary vocalist backed by a singing group.Lady goes with the two-pronged vocal attack, a less-common approach, but done well in the past by such duos as Stax’s Sam & Dave). Walker and Wray play well together, trading off the lead, backing each other up, harmonizing to thicken the hooks. They sing about mothers and friendship, instruct men on the proper way to woo them, and warn other men who might use them as tickets to a bank account. They are currently on tour with Lee Fields in Europe, and their warmth and harmonies must be a nice complement to his lonely, worn, aching voice.

The ladies in Lady show the benefits of artistic flexibility -- not focusing single-mindedly on a single genre, but working with different sounds, and different people. Hopefully they will continue their fruitful collaboration in the future, and encourage other singers to journey to the Truth and Soul studio.


From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.