Leela James - Music
"Can we just put the thongs away / And fall back in love with music?" sings Leela James in the first verse of "Music." I'd never heard of Leela until the VH1 Soul channel started promoting the hell out of her. And, for once, I'm grateful to have a new artist shoved down my throat.
Leela has soul by the truckload and fondly defends her love for "back porch, down home music." I'm totally with her when she says, "Where did all the soul go? / It's all about the video." And come on, I love my superficial videos with hot women shaking their asses, but we need more genuine music, more actual singing in our songs.
And now Leela James, who name checks Aretha, Gladys, Tina, Chaka Marvin and Donny, carries on the tradition, with a rich, husky voice you'd expect to be coming from the mouth of a 300-pound sister at a black church.
Leela, who appears to be in her mid-twenties, looks kind of like Jill Scott, with big, crazy hair pulled into two clown-wig afro puffs. Hair aside, Leela carries the dignity and conviction of a veteran star. She keeps all her clothes on, and she still looks good.
As for the video, it's none too flashy, but I love the mingling of color shots of Leela walking down the street of a desolate neighborhood with black-and-white shots of her as a child, exploring the same spots. There's a great sequence where little Leela and a friend climb atop milk crates to peek into a club where a band is playing thong-free music. The singer of the band? A very elegant-looking adult Leela.
"Music" is a song I instantly fell in love with, and I'm going to go out and actually buy a physical copy of the album. No downloading. Because I respect and enjoy Leela's sentiment and, just like she does, I have a deep affection for genuine music that comes from the soul. I just wish I still had a turntable.
VERY SIMPLE IRONY: When Leela complains, "Can’t even turn on my radio / Somebody hollerin’ bout a bitch or a hoe," the entire last five words are cut out. The music track even goes silent.