January 6th, 2012
Title: Where It All Begins
Artist: Lalah Hathaway
Label: Stax Records
Formats: CD, MP3
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Where It All Begins is by far the best project Lalah Hathaway has ever produced. Known for her sultry, deep, rich vocal approach, this project hints at the unknown parts of her vocal range and highlights her stylistic versatility. The album in no way neglects the Lalah Hathaway style, but instead extends its reach by incorporating beat-driven tracks, piano-based instrumentals, and jazzy tunes with intriguing chordal changes, as well as a range of mid and up-tempos.
The combination of musical styles contributes to the album’s overall contour, beginning with the beat-driven “Strong Woman,” and ending with a reprise of “This Could Be Love” tagged to the end of the almost melodically seamless “Dreamland.” After a reminder of the jazzy, sultry, Lalah Hathaway in the title track “Where It All Begins,” the sultry singer lightens her vocals for the album’s three danceable tunes: “My Everything,” “Small of My Back” and “If You Want To.” The tempo slows for the declarative “Always Love You,” a perfect introduction to the gritty, passionate “Lie To Me.” The latter, a personal favorite, highlights Hathaway’s vocal range with a lyrically pleading bridge that requires a passionate, heart-wrenching, yet hopeful approach and Hathaway delivers.
A definite climactic point in the album, “Lie To Me,” is followed by the slow and steady “This Could Be Love.” The musically brighter, up-tempo “Wrong Way” is supplemented by lighter vocals, with Hathaway again venturing into her higher vocal range. The remainder of the album features a cover, “You Were Meant For Me,” along with an appearance by Rachelle Ferrell, who offers a lighter vocal compliment to Hathaway’s deeper vocals on “I’m Coming Back.” “Dreamland” and the “This Could Be Love” reprise end the album on familiar ground, returning to the sultry, atmospheric musical styling Hathaway is known for.
While Where It All Begins presents a number of musical styles, a definite album highlight is her cover of a song recorded by her father, the incomparable Donny Hathaway. “You Were Meant For Me” maintains the subtleties her father lent the song in the 1978 release, but is fused with harmonic additions, rhythmic manipulations, and accented percussion unique to Lalah Hathaway.
Where It All Begins is the product of a growing artist and an exciting marker of what is to come from Lalah Hathaway.
Reviewed by Christina Harrison
Review Genre(s): Rhythm & Blues, Soul, Funk