Friday, November 16, 2012

Future D'L: Teena Marie - Luv Letter

As I've grown older, my list of favorite recording artists has grown substantially, but I'll always have my personal favorites -- those artists whose music I grew up on or borrowed from my parents. Teena Marie is one of those artists.  Her commercial peak was in the 80's with hits like "Lovergirl" and "Ooo La La La." She took a brief hiatus in the 90's and then returned full force with comeback record La Dona in 2004, one of the first CD's I bought with my own money. Six years later, after obsessing over practically everything she released, I learned she passed away. I was devastated. Her daughter, up-and-coming singer Rose LeBeau, is determined to release Marie's final project, titled Beautiful. It doesn't surprise me that Marie had enough leftover material to compose an album. She released music pretty consistently before she died, so I'm sure her feverish recording pace never let up. The first taste of her posthumous album is lead single "Luv Letter."

For anyone familiar with Marie's work, "Luv Letter" should come as no surprise. It's the same subdued, adult R&B format she's been releasing since the turn of the century. Her voice is still in excellent form. Her delivery is still fresh, hip and confident. Her lyrics here are delicious and still read like free form poetry. She demands her lover read her lines "because they never lie" and to listen to her lips because "they want to testify." That's the type of wordplay that as a poet myself keeps me intrigued. But Marie knows she's good. She even says so in the opening lines:

I know you heard about me and what the people say I do
The way I mix my metaphors, the way I do just what I do

On the second verse, she delivers more fun wordplay, singing:

I ain't saying nothing, baby, that ain't been said before
If all there is in life is vanity, I'm gonna even out the score
This one's for my music, pretty notes each melody
This one's for the many blessings, living inside of me

I can go on and on about Marie and her poetic lyrics. She will certainly be missed, because there was no other. If "Luv Letter" is any indication of the quality of her next album then fans of the late R&B legend are in for a treat. Be sure to feed "Luv Letter" to your MP3 player as soon as you can.

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