Maysa returns with her 8th solo CD, A WOMAN IN LOVE, and what a marvelous return it is. Since our earliest encounter with her on Incognito’s TRIBE, VIBES AND SCRIBES project in 1992, when we first heard those distinctive scat vocals on the opening track “Colibri,” we knew this was no ordinary R&B singer. On this new release, Maysa gets the opportunity to stretch out and express her Jazz credentials.
She starts off with a swinging Brazilian tinged number, “Am I Wrong (For Loving You),” complete with the scat we love, and a lively presentation. Following that, there is the romantic duet with Will Downing, “Love Theory,” which they co-wrote. Those of us who saw them sing together at Capital Jazz Festival last summer on the classic “Nothing Has Ever Felt Like This” got a preview of this magical pairing.
Next Maysa dives into the Thelonius Monk classic, “Round Midnight.” It begins conventionally with a muted trumpet solo, then drops into a funk-jazz groove beneath Maysa’s velvety voice delivering the desperate lyrics. Quite impressive.
Maysa brings 2 tracks in a more familiar vein, the radio ready “Spend Some Time” and the spoken word title track where Maysa asks the question, “Have you ever seen a woman in love?” Then she runs down the qualities that define that woman – “…more precious than gold, the truth untold…A woman in love seems to carry the whole world in her arms.” Indeed.
Perhaps the most extraordinary track on the CD is “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?” Maysa has admitted this was one of the most challenging songs to sing here, because the range of the melody leaves no room for error. She does a remarkable job, keeping the tempo slow and serious. She really wants to know.
On her 2007 CD, FEEL THE FIRE, Maysa did a beautiful cover of Michael Jackson’s ”I Can’t Help It.” This time out she returns to his catalog for “The Lady In My Life,” bringing and understated elegance to Rod Temperton’s heartfelt lyrics.
“Willow Weep For Me,” a song closely associated with Sarah Vaughan who Maysa sites as a primary influence, is up next. Maysa and the band give the song a mid-tempo swing that allows room for her to stretch out and scat a bit.
“Honey Bee” is destined to be a quiet storm classic. It’s a late night, slow burning jam that is irresistible. This is definitely sweet to me!
Maysa’s version of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins penned “I Put A Spell On You” gives Maysa an opportunity to channel a darker side. This is inspired, no doubt, by Nina Simone’s version, with Kim Water providing a mean sax solo throughout most of the track.
Maysa closes the CD with a simple and beautiful “When I Fall In Love.” This is the perfect coda to this magnificent collection. In her career, Maysa has been able to cover a wide range of vocals style. She remains one of our most versatile and consistent artists. She was awarded a Soul Train Award for her previous CD, METAMORPHOSIS, her first mainstream award as far as I know. We hope this swings the door open even wider for Maysa’s full blown stardom. She has certainly earned it.
About the Writer
Michael Lewis is a long-time associate at SoulMusic.com. His industry experience includes Sony Music, Motown and La Face Records, and a tenure at HEAR Music. He is grateful to contribute to sustaining the legacy of R&B and soul music.