Now 41, Ledisi represents a kind of soulful R&B for those who might enjoy the occasional Rihanna or Beyonce track but whose tastes lean more mature, toward Mary J. Blige territory. She nails that crossover on The Truth
, an upbeat collection that flirts with both soul-pop and adult contemporary sounds without committing to either—Ledisi’s too busy having fun to worry about labels. She seems to acknowledge the bump in energy to her sound with the opening track “I Blame You,” saying “people keep asking about this glow I seem to have ’cause I’m just not the same.” The album’s second track is called “Rock With You”—a bold move, considering Michael Jackson pretty well covered that—but the track successfully channels MJ’s ability to appeal to such a wide variety of music fans, percolating synthesizers and dense bassline keeping things interesting while Ledisi’s smooth voice and jazzy touches keep things classy. For a hip-hop fix, “That Good Good’s” stuttering groove seems to ref the aforementioned Rihanna without sounding like it’s grabbing for an out-of-reach youth audience—it sounds fresh without trying too hard—while “Lose Control” similarly would have sounded out of place on Beyonce’s last album, 4
, a stunning bit of adult, minimalist soul. Of course, what really sets Ledisi apart is her voice, which comes through powerfully on the title track, a stunning power ballad about realizing the one you’re with ain’t the one
. Clearly, Ledisi understands what makes for a great, adult R&B album, and it doesn’t mean soppy ballads. Rather, The Truth
roars with self-assurance.