RATING: 3 CHET BAKERS
While I'm a fan of all types of music, one of the things that really excites me is when I hear music that creatively utilizes various genres and styles of music. Whether it's groups like Apocalyptica combining Classical and Heavy Metal, or Bubba Sparxxx combining country/bluegrass elements into his hip hop classic "Deliverance", this is what really makes me enjoy music. When it's artists that are using their creativity to craft something that is outside the norm of what we hear on the radio.
Lina is such an artist, a multi-genre artist much like Nelly Furtado and Emily King. Lina's "Inner Beauty Movement", a testament to her own self respect, dignity and the empowerment of womens self image,is made up of multiple genres, and the album is not easily consigned to a specific type of music. As a result, if you were to ask someone "what type of music is Lina?", it's not an easy answer.
Artists like Rhianna, Beyonce, Ciara, and the like you have a set type of music that you know you're going to get when you put their album on. They don't really deviate from their niche, and as a result their songs pretty much all sound alike. My largest complaint about the female singers today is that they sound very much like each other. I'll often hear a new song by a female R&B singer and mistakenly think it's by one singer when it's really by another. The voices, production, etc sound so similar that it's almost impossible to truly differentiate, unless you're a devoted fan of those singers.
Artists like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, and Lina have a distinct sound that you know is them. You've never had someone put on a song by either of those three artists and thought they were Beyonce or Rhianna. There is an originality about them that precludes you from making that association.
It's also nice to hear an artist that is not embracing the "sex sells" type of lyrics, and it's easy to guess the types of artists that she looks up to. In an interview when asked who she would like to collaborate with she named, among others, India.Arie, Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige, all women known for their female empowering lyrics and strong intelligent songs.
When I first heard Emily King's debut album "East Side Story" years back I was loving it because of the very thing that makes me love this album. Her songs are not all a specific genre of that pop R&B, but more of a combination of different styles. Whereas King would mix in folk music and Pop R&B, sort of an Edie Brickell meets Nelly Furtado, Lina incorporates a Swing Jazz style music into her neo-soul tracks, creating an eclectic and wholly original style that resembles Amel Larrieux if she was recording albums in the 1940's.
Another bonus is that she writes her own songs. Her songs, while typically following the "getting over a bad relationship" type, are very strongly written and I imagine they come off as very inspirational to the young girls who hear her message of self love.
In fact one of the best songs on the album is called "Leaving You" in which she explains that she's leaving her man who is keeping her down, for someone who will love her and respect her: herself.
Originally released in 2005, "Inner Beauty Movement" is Lina's sophomore release, and first on the Hidden Beach label, I am just discovering this five years after it's initial release. Talk about an album being slept on.
Some standouts include "I Am" which has a nice neo/soul hip hop bounce type feel to it and the fantastically delightful short interlude "Music", which brings to mind "Combustible Edison". Combustible Edison was a swing/jazz/lounge act most known for it's soundtrack to the Miramax film "Four Rooms" which starred Tim Roth, Madonna, Antonio Banderas, Paul Calderon, Jennifer Beals, Ione Skye, Lily Taylor and featured cameos by Kathy Griffin, Bruce Willis and others. The film was a bizarre collection of four stories detailing a hapless bellhop (Tim Roth) on his first night in a Beverly Hills Hotel, each story directed by a different person including Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.
Also she has two knockout guest appearances on her album in Big Rube and Anthony Hamilton who are solid as always. This is a definite buy!
I recommend you check this out if you haven't already. Below you can check out the snippets of the album and click the link to buy it from the website.
MUST HEAR TRACKS: I Am, Music, I'm Leaving, My Fix, Around the World (feat. Anthony Hamilton)