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Up From Under by Letha

This is an interesting CD, well worth a listen and review. Letha, a native of my hometown, Washington, DC, presents 17 very original and thought-provoking tracks. There is a lot of dramatic dialog and chatter at the beginning, but she finally gets into the music.... a bluesy blend of melodies and rhythms. That Ella, Etta, Billie, even India Arie, vocal style is interestingly nostalgic. There’s serious promise here for the fan of that type of vocal quality,

Track two, " Step Outside," is a melodically riveting piece, because it--like most of these tunes--never sits still in any one place for very long. Don’t get comfortable, because it’ll take you somewhere else once you’ve settled down. I’ll tell you one thing: This is a very busy CD. Chatter, guitar, interesting, breathy lyrics. I didn’t feel the "Soul Funk Jazz" that was touted in the bio, but there’s something here that makes you squint a bit, scratch your head in a bit of bewilderment, but continue to listen. The lyrics carry some punch and warrant some serious ear time (reminiscent of India Arie’s music).

" Be Easy" has that reggae touch I like so well. Still, even here, something’s missing for this reviewer. It’s not a bad cut at all, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t think it went far enough melodically. Oh, the lyrics remain very deep and exploring. That’s the strongest feature of this entire CD.

When you listen to tracks like "Toys R Us," where she offers a live version of the Toys R Us tune in an almost impromptu fashion, you can sense that this young lady has more to her than meets the ear. That could eventually work for her.

As favorites go, I would select "I’ve Walked" and "Softspoken." I like the deliberate and slow manner in which they are delivered.... and they have really nice melodies. "Softspoken," tells a very riveting story, as well, as a mom tells her child that she’ll always be there for the child despite the fact that daddy’s not coming back. Hmm.... sound familiar? It places itself among the most noteworthy pieces on the CD.

One thing of note is the dramatic sound effects throughout (talking, walking, etc.). This is an artist who believes in using all of life around her to create her mural of music and adventure. In many ways, she does a most capable job. I think I hear something that could easily blossom and turn this first-timer into someone you’ll hear again. As debuts go, she’s worth a listen. No, not smooth jazz, by any stretch of this reviewer’s imagination, but as perhaps some other sub-genre of jazz . . .you be the judge.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Letha
  • CD Title: Up From Under
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Letha
  • Rating: Two Stars
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