Turn Me Loose

"Them Changes," penned by drummer Buddy Miles, who recorded it with both Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys and his own Freedom Express, served as the inspiration for Ledisi's fifth and funkiest CD. With drummer Teddy Thompson (of Mary Mary and American Idol renown) ferociously kicking along horn section riffs and Errol Cooney's hypnotic, Hendrix-derived rhythm patterns and scorching guitar solo, the Oakland soul siren wails with virtuosic abandon on the funk-rock classic, the only tune on the fourteen-track disc she didn't have a hand in writing. The title did, however, lead Ledisi to compose the original songs "Everything Changes," "Love Never Changes," and "Goin' Thru Changes" in collaboration with, respectively, co-producers Carl "Chucky" Thompson, Raphael Saadiq, and Rex Rideout.

Working for the first time with a variety of writer-producers, also including Chief Xcel, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Ivan Barias and Carvin Haggins, and Eric Krasno and Adam Deitch, provides the vocalist with a wider range of canvases on which to apply her multi-octave jazz- and gospel-imbued magic, from the provocative power ballad "The Answer to Why," written with Rideout, to the Memphis grooves and churchy melodies of the two songs cut with Saadiq. Many selections use programmed percussion, but Ledisi seems most inspired when singing with live drummers. Campbell plays on four tracks and Deitch on two, including "Knockin'," a Meters-style trip back to Ledisi's native New Orleans that features the John Scofield sideman's slamming Zigaboo Modeliste-inspired syncopations and Krasno's blistering Leo Nocentelli-like guitar. (Verve Forecast)


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