After watching YahZarah do her thing with The Foreign Exchange at BB Kings in NYC, I knew I was going to have to go into the archives and find her most recent EP release, The Prelude. Amazing the crowd with a stunning dress and vocal display, it was clear that YahZarah could easily steal the show if she wanted to. At times, the collaborative efforts she’s delivered have shown a bit of her ability but due to the laid back nature of most of the efforts, her full dynamic voice was rarely on display. Thankfully, this is not the case on The Prelude.
The long-lost member of En Vogue (and I’m talking Dawn Robinson level voice here), YahZarah has a powerful, funktastic, joy-infused, soul-slathered, rear-smackin’ voice that simply resonates a strength, and beauty that is typically lost in overproduction with other artists. Instead YahZarah’s The Prelude is a stunning promise of excellent music to come; a nine song effort that strategically shines in a different way each time. YahZarah makes you dance and romance as only she can.
Jumping in strong, unveiling of her voice, "Four Alarm Fire" displays her Patti Labelle-esque power and sex appeal with a song that she simply dominates. As she layers her voice in amazing keys effortlessly, you can’t help but bathe in the alluring funk that she delivers without mercy.
After boppin’ around with long-time collaborator Phonte, of Little Brother and Foreign Exchange, on "Real Good", she takes back-up in the funk mantle to deliver "Shook" which, though short, is easily a foot stomping sweat producer.
Then, keeping that sexy scene of sweat dripping upon a jook joint floor, "U Turn Me On" is probably the most apparent reincarnation of En Vogue upon the entire EP. A diva for sure. These first four songs are the manifestation of her new Purple St. James persona that is more fitting for her ability to shock the stand still out of you!
Next Purp decides to smooth things out for you and turn the dial a bit on the slow-jam side of things to reach an eventual climax. With "Oooh Baby U" and "Where Is" she sweetly calls for you to get close as she ratchets up the romance. The result is the jazzy duet with Raheem Devaughn entitled "Come To Me (Nothing Like U)". As deadly as the sensuous call of Miles Davis’ horn, this track is blissful.
Leading, once again, sweetly and with a jazzy twinge with "Natural", she preps you for the final romantic blow. As if she was channeling Prince’s "Insatiable", "Tired Of Watching (Love & Sunshine)" is a deceptively dripping tune of lust that whispers gently over a bluesy guitar and a suspenseful bass drum. Purple St. James simply carves out a statue made of the most provocative sonic visions, to announce her career’s rebirth as a new soul voice to be reckoned with.
Fiercely leaving the neo-soul behind, YahZarah aka Purple St. James made The Prelude a stunning announcement of her destiny to sing like no other songstress or diva can!