Not enough people know who Ledisi is, but they will. This Oakland-bred singer-songwriter — whose name means “to come forth” in Nigerian — is an astonishing talent with a booming voice and a knack for writing a hook. Her Verve debut, Lost & Found, is as complete as soul albums can hope to be these days, and it should do much to bolster her profile in the music world at large.
Ledisi’s voice is an instrument of unmatched energy and rawness. It is reminiscent of Chaka Khan’s, yet she does well to control it, often scaling back between her frenetic scatting and gospel runs. It’s the most salient strength of the album, but it’s the songs themselves that are the true triumph here. The production forgoes the traditional neo-soul sound of merging hip-hop and old soul, instead going for a very modern and streamlined take on pure soul. Live instrumentation, thick drums, and elegant melodies converge for a sound that is fresh in today’s musical landscape.
The album’s best songs, first single “Alright,” the minimal “Joy,” and the energetic “Get to Know You,” all feature a seamless melding of catchy lyrics, accessible production, and a warm, sassy performance. The level of songwriting is matched only by the complex arrangements. This is displayed best on “Think of You,” a slinky number that prominently features a thick drum breakdown over gorgeous call-and-response vocals. There is true depth on the album, with all aspects of the soul spectrum getting covered with expert skill. Lost & Found is a playbook on how to create a soul album.