Ledisi returns to spread the The Truth, which celebrates love and the reclaiming of the self.
Born in New Orleans, artist Ledisi’s musical talents effloresced with her when she moved to Oakland. From there, she went on to study opera and piano at UC Berkeley and join a cabaret troupe in San Francisco back in the 90s. Within the same decade, she formed band Anibade only to find that their efforts to sign with a major label didn’t work out. However, characteristic of a woman who speaks positive messages and shares life wisdoms through her music, Ledisi had the will to make her own way and established an independent record label, LeSun Records, with Sundra Manning. Her efforts came into fruition when “Take Time,” a jazzy oldie from Anibade’s first album in 2000 received much airplay from local radio stations such as KMEL.
Since then, this contemporary R&B singer-songwriter continued to rise to prominence with eight Grammy nominations and six White House performances. Even six albums in (three self-released and three with Verve Forecast,) Ledisi still shows that she is capable of change and growth.
In previous albums, Ledisi was defined by her deliverance of uplifting messages through her pensive beats and lyrical encouragement. In fact, she even admits in an interview with Savoy Magazine that the song she receives the most requests for is “Alright,” a soft, melodic chant of reassurance.
However, in her latest project, The Truth, she shifts the focus from the empowerment of others to the empowerment of herself, and the letting go of “toxic relationships” for the sake of building better ones. Her newest album deals with the every aspect of love: the sweet beginnings, the rocky middles, as well as the heart-wrenching endings. Her new focus on the personal shines through even in her revealing album cover, where she seems to almost sizzle against the fiery sky.
The Truth kicks off with “I Blame You,” a representation of the first butterflies of a blossoming love (“People keep asking about this glow I seem to have.”) Stylistically, this song immediately indicates the leap in confidence that Ledisi seems to have grasped since 2011’s Pieces of Me. With her effortlessly sonorous voice and an uncharacteristically upbeat tune, this crooner declares that new love is to be rejoiced in with such conviction that it’s hard to not want to stand up and sway along with her voice.
Though the beginnings and start-of-somethings are always exhilarating, The Truth also explores the ugly sides of love as well. The contemplative, eponymous “The Truth,” reflects upon the somber fact that sometimes love fades (“I don’t love you like I used to”) while “Like This” is told from the perspective of someone whose loved one has started to “[sing] someone else’s song.” Perhaps the most affecting ballad of the bunch is “88 Boxes,” full of oscillating piano and a harsh, funk-tinged beat, where a once-strong affair that began with the promising flutters of “I Blame You” is reduced to eighty-eight boxes packed whilst moving out.
Though sobering realizations, Ledisi never whines in self-pity. Instead she makes these intimate understandings about herself and the company she’s kept into lessons, which she grows from, ultimately leading to “Can’t Help Who You Love,” in which she comes into terms that falling in love is inevitable and who you fall in love with is even more uncontrollable—a simple observation she accepts as a truth of life. It may result in not-so-happy endings and packing eighty-eight boxes to walk out the door, but Ledisi does not seem to regret any of it. Instead, she embraces the past as her own and lets these individual experiences legitimize her lyrical content as well as the emotions that she pours into each track in The Truth, making it her most empathetic and identifiable endeavor to date.
Article by Linda Choi