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Leela James

Fall for You

Format: CD   Release Date: 07/08/2014
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Leela James departs from Shanachie a second time and follows Loving You More, her tribute to Etta James, with an impressive synthesis of classic and contemporary sounds. The blend of styles on her fifth album is made evident immediately, with lead song "Who's Gonna Love You More" opening with a buzzing synthesizer quickly offset by a typically gutsy and assertive vocal from James. "Do Me Right" and "So Good" mix respectively hard and rattling drums with nostalgic touches to pleasing effect. Plenty of the album aims to please traditionalists, such as the title track, her best bare piano ballad yet. On the silky "Give It" and the hushed "Stay with Me," she dips into a softer, gritless delivery that suits her surprisingly well. Since the release of her 2005 debut, a duet with Anthony Hamilton seemed like only a matter of time. It finally comes to pass here on "Say That," something of a Philadelphia International throwback in which the two singers sound at ease with one another, like they go back decades. While the percentage of excellent material isn't as high as it is on James' two previous albums, Fall for You is an engaging release with some pleasingly unaffected twists. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi

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