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Maysa - Love Is A Battlefield

Posted by Terry Sweeney on 2017/06/19

I admit it. There is a modest list of artists that I get excited over upon hearing word they are poised to release a new project. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that on that distinguished and confidential list is Maysa Leak. Her vocal brilliance that spans soft and sensual to soulful and soaring, has captivated countless fans since her early beginnings as lead singer for the UK R’n’B/Acid jazz icons Incognito, and I proudly count myself among them.

Maysa returns in 2017 with her 13th release, Love Is A Battlefield on the Shanachie Records label and again, pairs the Baltimore based soul sweetheart with venerable urban soul jazz producer Chris ‘Big Dog’ Davis who meticulously refines her already pure and incomparable talent with his studio exepertise. But let me make something clear straight up; if you’re anticipating an album with all or mostly new original material, you may be slightly disappointed. Conversely, if you want to enjoy a fabulous collection of songs that have been Maysa-fied, then I guarantee everyone goes home happy.

The most recognizable of Maysa’s new offerings it’s the title song itself, which was a top 5 billboard hit for Pat Benetar in 1983. However, as Maysa points out, the songwriters originally intended the song to a ballad before Ms. Benetar turned it into a power pop hit. Maysa returns the song to its original state with a laid back and compelling urban groove. The album’s premier release, "Inseparable", is a brilliantly polished and stunning version of Natalie Cole’s mid-70’s soul love ballad.

Maysa’s neo soul re-imaginations of songs from the 70’s through to the 90’s includes Atlantic Starr’s "Am I Dreaming", Luther Vandross’ "Because It’s Really Love", "Can We Talk" by Tevin Campbell and Babyface, and even an Isley Brothers classic, "Footsteps In The Dark". Her versions of these songs include some that are more mainstream recognizable than others also includes my personal favourite on the album, "Inside Out". Although some Soul music purists would vilify me for suggesting this, Maysa actually ‘old skool’s Odyssey on their 1983 funk dance floor groove with her modernized cover.

While the album is a collection of ‘generational’ classics, Maysa gambles on giving one segment of her audience a chance to re-live many songs that transcend their lives, while allowing a younger generation to potentially hear them for the first time from one of urban jazz’s most acclaimed singers of our time.

As for the conception of the album title, Maysa explains in the most simplistic terms. “The reason I chose Love Is A Battlefield has more to do with the way the world is today and all the things we are going through as a people’ She adds ‘We are all surrounded by people who are not choosing love first, instead they choose money over love and compassion.”

Whether or not she speaks from personal experience, we know there is seemingly nothing to stop Maysa from soldiering on.

Reviewed by Stu Berketo
On-Air Host
Wave.fm/94.7HD2                        

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