Lalah Hathaway: Where It All Begins  

Stax

A signature voice such as Lalah Hathaway's is too classic, with its smoky, mahogany texture, to be juxtaposed against gritty, urban contemporary tracks. Her latest LP boasts a lyrical bouquet, but the radio-ready rhythmic production on such songs as "Strong Woman" pale in comparison to Hathaway taking her time with real musicians. Longtime friend and artist/producer Rahsaan Patterson breaks the urban/adult contemporary monotony with a bona-fide club-banger in "If You Want To." Graciously, the 25-year jazz and soul veteran delivers fans a balance, culminating in two flawless cuts, "I'm Coming Back" (featuring Rachelle Ferrell) and her father Donny Hathaway's "You Were Meant For Me," produced by Phil Ramone. Studio songs such as the epic "Lie To Me" and the smoldering "This Could Be Love" seem perfectly constructed for live performance, a point which further illustrates why Ms. Hathaway's legacy increasingly rivals her legendary father's. (3 out of 5 stars)

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