It is not unusual that an artist takes the time to pay homage to a veteran of the music industry. However, when a young artist can rekindle the essence of an older counterpart in their own creative way through varied genres; that is commendable. On her recent release Loving You More…In the Spirit of Etta James, Leela receives a job well done.
The intro track “Soul Will Never Die” is her farewell to the great Etta James who passed earlier this year, while simultaneously being an introduction of her music to the younger generations.
“Something’s Got a Hold of Me” is the second track on the album and tells a tale of that strange feeling we sometimes can’t seem to shake, most often described as love. The song has a swing dance flavor that makes your “heart feel heavy and your feet light.” Leela wastes no time moving into the third song, “It Hurts Me So Much,” which uniquely samples Dr. Dre’s “Still Dre”. The song speaks to a familiar situation women may find themselves in by simply wanting a man, they can’t have. Ms. James does a nice job of using her soulful voice to match the grit of the California G-funk sound.
The following track takes us back to the disco era where her sound is strong and concise. Leela declares on “I’m Loving You More” that real love can make every day feel as good as the weekend! How could you want a dream like that to ever end?! “I’d Rather Go Blind” answers that question as this track explains how the loss of sight is the ONLY alternative after the disappearance of a lover.
As the album mellows out, we are launched into a lustrous neo-soul track entitled “I Want To Ta-Ta You Baby”. The use of guitars and horns help ferment the element of sexy on this record, as Leela makes it clear that she wants to thank her man for being true to her. Ms. James follows the theme of love with the next song on the album, “Damn Your Eyes”. They say the eyes are the key to the soul and on this 80’s pop driven song Leela tells us about the dichotomy of which the eyes can bring deceit and desire.
The eighth track “Nobody Loves You Like Me” has a lot of funk on it and promises men that even after fishing through their little black book, a woman’s love can be incurable from any others. Continuing the flow of funk and psychedelic rock, Ms. James dives further into the idea of an irreplaceable woman on “Old School Kind Of Love”. Now you know it’s real when it’s old school!
Closing out the album, the bass heavy slow jam “Sunday Kind Of Love” paints a picture of a woman having a passion for a connection that is more than love at first sight or a Saturday night date. It’s evident that Leela is speaking to a sanctified kind of love, a forever type love.
Coupled with southern soul and eloquent lyrics, Leela James definitively uses Loving You More…In The Spirit of Etta James to prove that vocal acrobats and musical lifts are not the most essential piece of creating a great album. Ms. James proves that instrumentation and composition are parallel in the process. Leela gives young listeners a full course in Etta James through a melting pot of genres and that factor is what makes this album unique for the listener.
Get your copy: Loving You More (In the Spirit of Etta James) – Leela James