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Soul Express Album of the Month in October 2008

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UK Expansion, 2008

1) My Destiny 2) Simpatico 3) Never Really Ever 4) Higher Love 5) Take Me Away 6) Grateful 7) Happy Feelings 8) Let's Figure It Out (A Song For Bluey) 9) I Need A Man 10) Love So True 11) Walk Away 12) A Conversation with the Universe Bonus tracks: 13) I Can't Help It 14) All I Do

Maysa's previous two albums were all-cover sets on Shanachie, but I'm glad to report that she has now released an albumful of new tunes. However, as bonus cuts on the UK version of this CD there are two (Stevie Wonder–written) songs taken from her all-cover CDs; I Can't Help It from her 2007 CD Feel the Fire and All I Do from her 2006 release Sweet Classic Soul.

The new tracks take Maysa back to the same kind of mellow and peaceful atmosphere as on her 2004 set Smooth Sailing, which many still consider her best-ever album, and this newie is equally classy. On Smooth Sailing, Maysa was assisted by Rex Rideout, Angela Johnson and Ledisi, and all three also contribute to this CD. Rex Rideout (who is a familiar name to those who have followed Will Downing's career in the 90s and this decade) has co-written and produced three tracks, of which Simpatico is a softly floating mid-pacer with a slight Brazilian flavor and Never Really Ever a melodious two-stepper with a programmed backdrop. Much more acoustic instrumentation can be heard on the third Rex Rideout contribution Grateful, which is a gentle ballad laced with acoustic guitar. I Need a Man is another classy ballad.

Maysa was one of the featured vocalist on Angela Johnson's A Woman's Touch, vol. 1 project released earlier this year, and for this album Angela has written one song, titled Happy Feelings, which fuses some jazzy tones into the hurried beats. My personal favourite on the album is – not surprisingly – the Ledisi contribution Walk Away, which is a strong new ballad tune in a rather conventional musical setting.

Najee colours the backings with his flute playing on two Chris Davis–produced cuts, My Destiny and the bossa nova–flavoured Higher Love, of which especially the latter gives Maysa a chance to show off her scatting skills. More of Maysa's scatting can be heard on Let's Figure It Out, a semi-instrumental dedicated to the Incognito founder Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick, and on the closing track A Conversation with the Universe.

With no weak tracks on the whole album, Metamorphosis is one of Maysa's most consistent sets, and highly recommended for all her fans.

- Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express

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