The major buzz that has enveloped singer Laura Izibor is not that she can belt a tune; it’s that she has soul power. I’m taking the raw, unforgettable kind that endeared women like Whitney Houston, Angie Stone, Alicia Keys, and Jill Scott to legions of listeners. Even before she dropped her 10-track debut CD, Let The Truth Be Told early last month, folks were already hearing incredibly flattering things about Izibor’s voice and delivery as word spread on blogs and across the airwaves.
With an intoxicating mix of neo-soul, jazz, and R&B, Izibor makes listening to an album the pleasurable experience it should be. Such singers usually win fans very easily, as the music speaks (loudly) for itself. Watching her new music video performances you get emotionally-charged, confident and unpretentious singing. No wonder revered Black publications, including Essence and the recently-shuttered Vibe are hailing her as one of the top musical debutantes of 2009. Her inner and outer beauty fuels her gorgeous sound.
On poignant and mesmerizing cuts like "Don’t Stay", she gives her man a simple ultimatum (be my love or leave) while on "If Tonight Is My Last", she beautifully envisions sharing a final experience with the love of her life. The lyrics and melodies are hugely absorbing and her voice is on point. But it is the feeling that Izibor pours into the music that lifts them beyond expectations. Did I mention she’s just 23? The last time I gushed like this about a young singer was during my reviews for 20-year-old Adele’s juicy debut 19 and 22-year-old Katie Melua’s latest repeat-worthy effort Pictures. Can’t leave out My One and Only Thrill from the seriously gifted Melody Gardot, now 24.
But back to Laura Izibor. Listeners everywhere have fallen for Izibor’s jazzy first single "From My Heart To Yours", a powerful track peppered with piano, guitar riffs; the sublime "The Worst Is Over" and the achingly optimistic "Perfect World", which fall among the album’s most satisfying highlights. Still, you won’t be able to avoid the other funky offerings like "Yes (I’ll Be Your Baby)", a joyous declaration piece if ever there was one. Izibor’s ability to move effortlessly from energetic to languid beats, soaring melodies to contemplative grooves will leave you enthralled. At the same time, the singles here would not be out of place on albums from such soul sirens as Chrisette Michele (whose latest album, Epiphany, is a runaway winner) and the aforementioned Adele. Interestingly, both Adele and Izibor have European roots. Adele is English. Izibor is Irish.
As it should, Izibor’s music is thrilling and thought-provoking, with an unwavering commitment to connecting heart, mind, body, and soul. Clearly, her intention as an artist is to help restore the joy that is now inexplicably absent from much of today’s music. Thankfully, she achieves much success on this debut release, a smart and sassy combination of hard-hitting adult soul and introspective R&B with traces of jazz, funk and blues. One can only hope a singer of her caliber and dedication to crafting a winning sound, experiences the meteoric rise to stardom she so richly deserves.