[Review] Lalah Hathaway’s “Where It All Begins”

Lalah Hathaway has been in the music industry for quite some time now, but she’s the kind of artist that I believe doesn’t get the full recognition she clearly deserves. I’ve never been able to put into sense exactly how her sound grabs my attention, but I can certainly say she touches the core of my soul with her singing. Its soul, r&b, and jazz elements all mixed together to create soothing and delightful melodies filling the atmosphere with this aphrodisiac that stimulates an intense emotion in listeners. ‘The First Daughter of Soul’ brings no bull when it comes to her art. It’s a sound like no other. I kid you not. Lalah’s music definitely has that impact on people and if you bid to differ, then evidently there’s something wrong with you, or it could mean you have no idea what good music is. The singer’s sixth studio album, “Where It All Begins,” is described as a regeneration of Lalah’s creativity. And after listening to the first single “If I Want To”, one could only expect it the album to be just as remarkable. So, is it? Let’s find out together.

The album opens up with the powerful anthem “Strong Woman.” Like the title refers, the song’s about the wonderful attributes of a good woman and how the man often times doesn’t appreciate her worth. Lalah goes hard on the grinding beat with her aggressive vocals. Her tone emphasizes on the purpose of the track, making it crystal clear what it means to be a woman who is also strong. I love this opening banger; its up-tempo, groovy, and definitely club fitting.

Where It All Begins” didn’t depict what I was expecting it to, but I think the message it brought forth was even better.  My initial thought was that this is going to be a song about trying to resolve relationship issues, but in fact it goes much deeper than that. The track’s actually about being honest with yourself and living the life you really want to. In the end, no one knows what’s best for you or understands you better than you. If you don’t know who you truly are then you won’t know where you’re going in life. I think it’s mostly about not losing yourself to a lie, and I like how honest and true the words are. The harmonies are strong, well balanced, and uplifting. I get chills every time I listen to this song. It’s just beautiful.

The piano melody that opened “My Everything” was possessing. The track starts out warm and inviting, but then that up-tempo sexy beat comes in and you can’t help but stay. The song’s about the indescribable love one can feel for another. Throughout the entire track, Lalah highlights all the beautiful things in the relationship and how she appreciates every little aspect. The track takes me back to summer and makes me feel like getting on the dance floor. The instruments are perfectly arranged and the vocals are off the chain. This would have to be my favorite so far. 

The “Small of My Back” touches on the sensuality between couples on the dance floor. Lalah sings about the intense feelings that flow through her body caused by the hands of her lover. Whenever he caresses her back she can’t help but pull more into him. It’s almost like reading a romance novel based on lovers who have a shared gratification between each other. It’s a very tasteful track but it’s not as unforgettable as the previous.  

If You Want To” is all about leaving all the trouble behind and having a good time. Sometimes we all just want to let go and live free. This track screams freedom to party and releasing it as the first single was the best decision. It’s an up-tempo r&b song with a bit of neo soul fused into the mix and I just love every essence of it. 

Lalah gets mellow on “Always Love You.” The song depicts the downhill of the relationship. It’s a romance gone sour and its best if they ended it. You can tell she loves him but there’s no denying the inevitable. All she can do now is wish him well and let him know there’ll always be a place for him in her heart. The beat is hypnotic and the chorus is catchy, but it’s a bittersweet song that’s carrying us into the concept of the heartburning track coming next.

Lie to Me” can be summed up into one word, hot. From start to finish, the track exhumes passion, depth and sorrow. The song’s about coming to terms that relationship is over but still wanting one more night to hold on until going their separate ways at the light of day. For one more night, she wants to completely have his heart. This track is just breathtaking. The music is as intense as her singing. It’s the slowest song on the album but this is contemporary r&b at best in my opinion. I felt every note hit my heart. It’s completely and utterly flawless.  

We’ve cried along with Lalah on the last song, but now we can rest in the fact that she seem to have found something new in “This Could Be Love.” All the signs are there but she’s a little afraid of falling and having no control of her heart. It feels so real but she still wants to be careful just in case it’s not. I understand just where she’s coming from. Often times we think its love and invest so much in the relationship but it turns out not to be true, and then in the end we suffer painful heartbreaks. But lets just hope that Lalah has found love here. 

Wrong Way” picks up back the tempo. The track mixes r&b and rock together and I love the results of this electrifying concept. It’s about taking the wrong path or making the bad decisions in life even when our hearts tell us otherwise. However, if we don’t learn from these wrong choices then there’ll be no room for growth. I love the message being enforced here, and I think it’s definitely a song that we could use as an eye-opener to life in general.

Lalah’s rendition of “You Were Meant For Me” is one of the best and most inspiring way in which an artist could pay tribute to a music legend who paved the way for singers in the same genre, especially when it’s a song originally performed by her father, Donny Hathaway. It’s an exceptional cover and I think this song is the epitome of how talented a singer she really is.

The remastered version of “I’m Coming Back” from her self-titled debut album is just as fulfilling as the original. The words are still pure and just as meaningful. The only thing I can add is that the newer version intensified the soul and love ora that were a bit subtle in the first, and its also recorded to sound more like modern r&b music. I also like the spiritual harmonies in the background, reminds me of the desert. In case you have no idea of the existence of this song, allow me to interpret in my opinion what it’s about. The song explores the never-ending power of love. It’s a feeling that never dies even when the relationship has, so Lalah sings about the man reaching out to her in time of need and without hesitation she’ll run to him. This woman doesn’t have the capability of recording shit. I just love her music and how real it is, don’t you?

The album concludes in “Dreamland.” The song touches on the sweet and uninterrupted nature of love in itself, and how a striving couple shows affection to each other daily in different little ways. The lyrics capture the title perfectly because I’m caught up in a dreamy sensation when listening. I’m all ears to the singer telling me a romantic story about her love and life. It seems so beautiful yet unrealistic, but you know it’s possible to have all those beautiful things because love can be unimaginable I think. It’s such a mellow track but it brings a joyful close to the album. And I always love a happy ending.

Where It All Begins” may be the sixth studio album but Lalah is sounding fresher than ever, almost like its her first release with all the passion demonstrated on each track. It was next to perfect, though there were one or two songs that didn’t quite hit the nail on the head for me. However, the rest did justice, and I can only imagine all the effort she placed into the songwriting. It takes a truck load of inspiration to conjure something as outstanding as this record and I give her all the praise for her hard work. “Where It All Begins” gets a rating of 4.9/5


Track listing: 

01. Strong Woman
02. Where It All Begins
03. My Everything
04. Small Of My Back
05. If You Want To
06. Always Love You
07. Lie To Me
08. This Could Be Love
09. Wrong Way
10. You Were Meant For Me
11. I’m Coming Back
12. Dreamland


(Purchase this album now on iTunes)

Images credit: Google

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