By Frank Alkyer | Published September 2021
Black Acid Soul is the sensational new recording by Marley Munroe, aka Lady Blackbird. This is heady, haunting, sexy, soulful, heartbreaking stuff. With a voice that suggests a cross between Mahalia Jackson and Nina Simone, Lady Blackbird tears your heart apart and puts it back together again on this 11-song set. The ease, growl, coo and convincing nature of her voice come naturally as she has been singing in front of audiences since childhood, and was signed to a Christian music label as a teenager. She has long since left that side of her career behind, but the soul of that music is always close by. When she pleads, “Come back, come back, come back/ I’ve had enough,” on Allen Toussaint’s “Ruler Of My Heart,” there’s a piercing search for love that can only be delivered by a very few. The great Irma Thomas made the song a classic back in 1963. Lady Blackbird matches the authenticity and originality in this remake. Her voice is an old friend confessing her secrets, drawing you into her world. Take, for example, the new but timeless nature of “Nobody’s Sweetheart,” written by artist-producer-songwriter Chris Seefried, who worked with Andra Day on her debut recording. It’s a beautifully touching ballad that could fit easily into the catalog of an icon like Burt Bacharach, packed with forlorn lyricism, punctuated by a sweet trumpet solo from Trombone Shorty. Lady Blackbird is best when dishing out torch songs like “It’s Not That Easy,” “Five Feet Tall” and “It Will Never Happen Again,” or instant jazz noir classics like the album’s opener, “Blackbird.” This is an album of smart wordplay, amazing song choices and elegantly understated musicality. Floating above it all is the voice and artistry of this new and incredibly exciting artist. We’ll be talking about this debut for many years to come.