R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

Blue-Eyed Soul Brilliance

11 SEP 08 DAVID NATHAN

It takes a whole lot to bring two of the great music men out of virtual retirement to work with a brand new artist but Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Leigh Jones so impressed Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. and former Stax president Al Bell they did just that for her album Music In My Soul.

Gordy in fact produced the truth-tellin' "Cold In L.A.," Leigh's autographical take on the and hopes-dashed scenario that greets many a newcomer to the city. With lines like "Have your people call my people" and references to never-ending call backs, this graduate of the prestigious Berklee School Of Music clearly has some firsthand knowledge of the city and its pervading pretense.

Gordy and Bell's enthusiasm for Leigh's auspicious self-titled Peak Records' debut is hardly surprising. The soulful singer lays her own stamp on the DeBarge Motown classic "All This Love" while running the musical gamut of R&B, pop and jazz with an array of strong original tunes such as the mellow and intimate "Have It Your Way" and the upbeat blues, "Can't Get It Enough." Other standouts on the album include the real life-slanted "Sick Of Fools," the hypnotic "Free Fall," the bluesy ode "I'm Leavin' You," the jazz gem "Same Game" and the sassy "Words You Never Say."

Industry veteran Kerry Gordy who has worked with Leigh for the past few years accurately describes her as "incredibly talented -- a singer's singer, a good songwriter and a producer's dream." Bias notwithstanding, he's right on target. Jones' debut is unquestionably the best new artist album I've heard this year.