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Teena Marie La Dona Review

Album. Released 2004.  

BBC Review

...the welcome return of a true pioneer of 80's r&b...

Jack Smith 2004

No white artist has sang r&b more convincingly than Mary Brockert, best known to the masses by her stage name - Teena Marie. While at college she was spotted by Motown's Berry Gordy and immediately signed to the label, so beginning a recording career of a near-dozen albums between 1979 and 1994.

Jump forward to 2004, and a recording hiatus of over a decade has come to an end. Times have changed, the album definitely takes a contemporary urban stance, but old fans needn't despair -you can still hear echoes of Teena's former glories. The emotive "My Body's Hungry" echoes "Portuguese Love", while the Gerald Levert partnered "A Rose By Any Other Name" smacks of her earlier jams with mentor and one-time paramour, Rick James.

Lady T's voice has lost none of its distinctive qualities, her delivery on the Al Green co-penned "I'm Still In Love" oozes soul, passion and warmth. Her younger rivals should listen and learn.

Throughout the album the emphasis is on the bedroom rather than the dancefloor. Marie revisits her roots as a classic balladeer and infuses it with jazz, r&b, even dancehall (Lady Levi offering the ragga vibe on "Recycle Hate To Love"). "Makavelli Never Lied" is one of the highpoints, riding insinuating piano licks over a groove embellished with the funk-influences of the late Roger Troutman. Surprisingly her collaboration with Rick James, "I Got You", is one of the weakest tracks.

La Dona marks the welcome return of a true pioneer of 80's r&b, featuring sharp musicianship and a sophisticated, ferociously commanding lead vocal performance that will please the more'mature' listener. Yet there are more than enough contemporary reference points to entice a younger urban audience, as has been highlighted by this discs amazing success in America. Lady T, we salute you!

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