Somebody might want to check the offices of Truth & Soul Records or the homes of singers Nicole Wray and Terri Walker for a time machine. Because on Terri and Nicole's debut album as a duo, the two have managed to perfectly capture a sound that was at it peak in the early 1960s. The duo, which unfortunately goes by the unimaginative and slightly confusing name Lady, has delivered some of the best modern-era Soul music of the past few years.
Lady's self-titled debut album, which was released digitally by Truth & Soul Records March 5, 2013 and will be available in physical form on March 12, is a well-crafted, vintage sounding album that mimics classic Soul so well, you'd almost think that the singers traveled back in time to record the songs during the Motown era.
To some fans in the U.S., Nicole Wray's name may sound familiar; she was once signed to Missy Elliott's Goldmind record label in the late 1990s, when she was still in her teens. She even had a top five hit song, "Make It Hot," which went on to sell over half a million copies. But after her 1998 debut album, Nicole and Missy parted ways and Nicole floated around the music world for awhile and is mostly considered a one-hit wonder these days. Until now, she hadn't released a full album commercially in 15 years. R&B/Soul vocalist Terri Walker, on the other hand, has released three solo albums -- all in her native United Kingdom, and none in the U.S. -- making her virtually unknown in America.
According to Brooklyn-based Truth & Soul, the two songbirds met in New York City in 2009 and bonded over their love for classic Soul music. They later linked up with producers Leon Michels and Jeff Silverman, best known for working with such soulful artists as Adele, Aloe Blacc and Lee Fields.
And so the ladies have taken the opportunity to reinvent themselves as an American-British Soul duo. Freed from the constraints of the mainstream music industry, the ladies of Lady has made an album that goes completely against the grain of what contemporary R&B music sounds like. There's no electro-dance music, no hip-hop beats, no guest rappers, no between-song skits or interludes, no super-producers stamping their sonic imprint on things in a heavy handed manner. Instead, what we get on Lady is pure, simple bluesy Soul music performed by two mature, veteran vocalists and a strong collection of studio musicians.
Among the highlights here is "Money," a retro-R&B tune, that like most of the albums, hearkens back to the days of late 1950s/early '60s R&B, when acts like Martha & the Vandellas and Etta James ruled the radio airwaves. "Money" is an uptempo pop-Soul track about an independent woman who suspects her man is only with her in order to get his hands on her dollars and cents, is Lady's first breakthrough track: "You can't wait, can't wait, to roll with me to the bank/But I'll wait, yes I'll wait, I think I'll go another day," they sing in unison. Another winner is "Get Ready," a song about taking your life and destiny in your own hands. "They don't believe, they don't believe, but they're gonna see that I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready, ready, ready," they sing.
Of the the treats about the album is that each lady has her own distinctive voice, the two manage a very harmonious sound on the song choruses. And although not all songs are vocal masterpieces -- there's a few weaker tracks toward the album's end -- the quality is consistent enough to make this an album worth hearing, especially if you're a fan of classic Soul.