By Carlo Wolff | Published June 2019
Songs of empowerment, faith and sensuality rule A Little Love, singer Quiana Lynell’s major-label debut. Framed by the dreamy “We Are” and the stirring “Sing Out, March On,” the album effectively showcases a vocalist comfortable and commanding in styles including pop, jazz classics and the blues.
With a voice spanning alto and coloratura, the Dallas native reanimates Love Unlimited/Chaka Khan’s insistent “Move Me No Mountain,” sasses Irma Thomas’ “Hip Shakin’ Momma” and dips deeply into social commentary with her dusky take on “Tryin’ Times.” That Donny Hathaway lament, punctuated by the rich blend of Cyrus Chestnut’s piano and Ed Cherry’s guitar, might be the album’s strongest track; it’s certainly timely. While Lynell’s gospel background suffuses the Hathaway tune and Joshuah Campbell’s powerful finale, the purity and passion of her churchy voice comes through most clearly on the album’s pivot point, a medley of “Come Sunday/I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free).” Sparked by Chestnut’s understated musings, that Duke Ellington-Billy Taylor blend sets up Lynell’s lighthearted duet with drummer Jamison Ross, the saucy “They All Laughed.”
Lynell often insinuates herself into songs, faking listeners into thinking her performance will be one-dimensional. Lynell is too savvy and too ambitious for that, however; she knows how to strike when the iron is hot. Working with fellow musical dramatists, like bassist George DeLancey and Monte Croft, whose vibes enrich this album from the start, helps.
A Little Love: We Are; Tryin’ Times; Move Me No Mountain; Come Sunday/I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free); They All Laughed; Just A Little Lovin’ (Early In The Mornin’); You Hit The Spot; Hip Shakin’ Momma; What Is Love?; Sing Out, March On. (41:45)
Personnel: Quiana Lynell, vocals; Ed Cherry, guitar; Cyrus Chestnut, piano, Fender Rhodes; Monte Croft (1, 3), vibraphone; George DeLancey, bass; Jamison Ross, drums, vocals.