LeToya - Lady Love

Posted August 25, 2009
Tags: LeToya,

She might not admit it, but it’s got to annoy LeToya Luckett whenever she sees “previously...

Lady Love Album Review

She might not admit it, but it’s got to annoy LeToya Luckett whenever she sees “previously of Destiny’s Child” attached to her name; meaning she must be constantly annoyed. Even though it’s been nearly a decade since LeToya left Destiny’s Child, she’s still routinely talked about in the past tense. It’s like if I was always referred to as Nathan S, formerly of Thurston Middle School (except replace “middle school” with “most successful female group of all time”). For better or worse, LeToya’s drive to establish herself as a solo artist is the story of an artist’s struggle to shift the world’s view of her from the past, to the present and into the future.

With her second album, Lady Love, Luckett takes another step away from her Destiny’s Child roots and towards becoming, simply, LeToya. Unfortunately, the momentum she established with her successful debut album was largely squandered when she got lost in the merger shuffle between Virgin and Capitol Records, but, if I can be allowed a cliché, better late than never. Like her first album, Lady Love is an always high quality work that consistently showcases LeToya’s bright future as an R&B talent. Long story short, you might as well get to know LeToya, because if Lady Love is any indication, she’s going to be part of the musical landscape for a long time to come.

Letoya’s first album consistently brushed up against the more hip-hop side of R&B, a rap flirtation that continues on Lady Love. Just take the lead single She Ain’t Got, an electronically soaked track with street foundations. LeToya more than capably hits the high notes on She Ain’t Got, but it’s her fierce personality, not her voice, that makes the track remarkable. “’Bout to put my foot down on homegirl’s neck” are not the words of a pop princess. Even more hip-hop-esque is the album’s bonus track Swagger, a banger that embraces her H-Town roots with guest verses from Bun B, Slim Thug and Killa Kyleon. It’s fascinating to hear LeToya hold her own next to such trill gentlemen and I would have loved to see more of this side of her on the album, instead of tracks like the formulaically radio-friendly duet with Mims Love Rollercoaster. By contrast, the Ludacris-assisted Regret is much better, partially because LeToya gets back to showcasing her unique style, and partially because Luda just doesn’t make bad tracks. Either way, Lady Love proves once again that LeToya can easily hold her own next to anyone holding a mic, a skill that’s essential to success in today’s game.

Ultimately though, Lady Love is more of a mid-tempo R&B album than a hip-hop hybrid. Case in point Not Anymore, the album’s most traditional ballad. LeToya doesn’t have a powerhouse voice, and it shows most prominently on slower tracks like Not Anymore or the break-up anthem Over. Not everyone needs to do passionate break downs like Keyshia Cole, but it helps, and LeToya just doesn’t have the vocal firepower to really make the track cry. Instead LeToya’s real home is in the mid-tempo department, a fact proven time and time again on Lady Love. Take Away Love is one of the album’s best tracks, a supremely smooth song featuring Estelle, and Good to Me reminds me of something off of Usher’s Confessions album, a densely layered track that manages to be serious and sexy at the same time. Speaking of which, Lady Love passes my “every good R&B album needs at least one baby-making track” test with I Need A U, a breathy and burning track that should set the sheets on fire. (Remember when I said LeToya’s not as good slowed down? There’s one notable, very notable, exception on Lady Love). I just want to go on the record saying that I could definitely be A U, if you catch my drift LeToya. I’m just saying, think it over.

Lady Love isn’t a perfect album, at times it feels uninspired and overly deliberate, but it’s clearly the work of a woman coming into her own as an artist. So just how good is Lady Love? Let’s put it this way: From now on I’m not going to attach a “formerly of Destiny’s Child” onto LeToya Luckett’s name. She will finally be, simply, LeToya. She’s earned it.

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted August 25, 2009
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