Leela James — Veteran soul singer is back with her seventh album See Me. The album also includes a feature from Mumu Fresh and songwriting and production is by Rex Rideout and Jairus “JMo” Mozee. This album is her follow-up to the previously released sixth studio album Did It For Love. See Me will give the listener a rollercoaster ride through pure emotions as it is composed with the transparency of the heart; each track in the album highlights the versatility of Leela.
Through this album with 11 tracks Leela hopes to put across her raw emotions and passion which went into each and every song; they reveal the awakening of the spirit which is tied to the complexity of love. The title track or rather the centrepiece of the album is a strikingly sad piano ballad assembled with snapping fingers and rich, Jam & Lewis-style chords. “Complicated,” a glossy southern soul has reached Number 6 last week and has garnered an audience of over 5.5 million people.
In all the songs there is the realm of authenticity and uniqueness. The very first song in the set “Break My Soul” is an empowering one and features a verse by Mumu Fresh. “Can’t keep a real woman down / We bounce back, never rebound,” is proof of Leela’s resilience and boldness, making it an anthem of empowerment.
In the track “Angel in Disguise” she follows a different style. “Angel in Disguise” is a spooky funk with a muted bass and the sounds of the wind. As she sings, “Things that I saw stayed on my mind, still I gave up what’s mine for yours,” she shifts between the memories of a new relationship when she realizes she is being tricked by her partner. She continues to sing, “You had me thinking you were the one/…your pretty wings were the perfect disguise.” “Put It On Me” follows a similar theme where she sings “You’re just who you are/I just shouldn’t have let this thing go so far” with a soul ballad tempo. The power ballads in “Put It on Me” make is powerful and the piano along with the lyrics gives a clear picture of a relationship full of disrespect and heartbreak. “Put It on Me” has been steadily climbing the R&B radio, and it has already reached Number 10.
The best part of the album is unarguably the poignant portrayal of the injustices prevalent in the society. The album depicts the toxicity in the music industry where R&B singers do not receive equal opportunities like their white counterparts. “Can you see me? I’m standing right here,” James sings. “Can you hear me? Singing so loud and so clearly/Trying to get through to you” The electric piano in the background goes hand in hand with the lyrics, “I am somebody just like the rest,” “But you look right through me even when I give my best/What more can I do, after I give my all to you?” She ends the album with a jubilant disco cut “Rise N Shine,” it is filled with optimism and gives the album a merry ending. Both “Sippin’ “and “Rise N Shine” makes the listener want to groove and is extremely infectious bop.
James released her debut album back in 2005. This was the time the music business as a whole was going through a hard time and suffering because of piracy. Her label was released but her music career was stalled temporarily. She resurged with her second album in 2009 as an independent artist. She incessantly kept recording and touring and her hard work paid off as she rose to the Top Ten at R&B radio for the first time in 2015 and hit Number One in the following year.
Leela has already hit the road is having fun connecting with her fans during this time. She will also be performing with Chaka Khan, The Isley Brothers, Gregory Porter, and Tamar Braxton. Stay tuned to Glasse Factory for more information regarding tour dates. Listen to the album here.