Music Review:Maysa Leak-Metamorphosis


Maysa Leak’s ebony contralto is sensuously joyful and emotionally grown-up without the wintry melancholy of a Sade or the smoky jazzy soul of Anita Baker. Metamorphosis is her first album of original material since Smooth Sailing some three albums ago. The songs are soothing spa music based in Wes Montgomery’s smooth jazz aesthetic with snapshots of other genres and a story of heartbreak.Chicago guitarist Nick Colionne is featured on all the songs and together their muses make a well-pitched match. His guest spot on “Let’s Figure It Out” is an exercise in coolly walking through a groove that breaks with Maysa’s expressive scats and house music lite for a dedication to Bluey the bandleader of her other musical home. Her choice to sing a song regarding her long-term relationship with jazz funk band Incognito attests to the personal nature of the album. The carefree sensibility she is known for delivers panoramic frames of beautiful coastlines and breezes for the summery “Simpatico.” A general buoyancy in sound almost obscures tensions of the heart that she candidly lyricizes. She sings “Never Really Ever” in a voice of resignation but warns her ex lover of her significance in his life: “Whatever her name is it’s alright because she will never take the place of me in your life go and pretend you’ve moved on I was giving you what’s good and strong .” Music stores still want to classify her under the “jazz” heading but her emotional vulnerability comes straight from the R&B handbook. Despite losing a recent love she is fearless in admitting her desire to try again in a new relationship.” I Need A Man” declares her need for the kind of love she saw between her parents. The differing moods of each song imply a spontaneous approach to the recording sessions influenced by the various emotions one experiences when trying to detox from a past love. Global Noise joins her for “A Conversation With The Universe” which foregoes actual words for more scat vocal shapes that seem to have the character of a jazzy Buddhist chant. Metamorphosis takes the hurt and uses the weight of it to create an album that is deceptively simple underneath Maysa’s velvet vocals and layered arrangements.