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Lee Fields & the Expressions, Lady 

When: Thu., March 28, 9 p.m. 2013
Price: $18, $15 in advance
The savvy producers at the Daptone and Truth & Soul labels have consistently found veteran soul singers who’d either left music or never made it past the margins of the industry—Sharon Jones, Lee Fields, Charles Bradley—and helped them launch new careers with tunes and arrangements that fit their comfort zones. But sometimes the labels dictate rather than accommodate: the superb self-titled debut by vocal duo Lady, released earlier this month, conforms to the retro aesthetic of Truth & Soul house producers Leon Michels and Jeff Silverman, more so than to the tastes of the two singers, 31-year-old American Nicole Wray (an early protege of Missy Elliott) and 33-year-old Brit Terri Walker (who had some success in the UK during the neosoul craze). As Wray recently told an interviewer for Life + Times, “We kind of stepped into a situation. This is their [Michels and Silverman’s] love, this is their sound, we didn’t bring this element. Terri comes from jazz, hip-hop, pop. I come from R&B, and we just added those elements.” Both Walker and Wray are terrific performers, though, and they sound great together no matter what the style, whether singing in unison, trading leads, or harmonizing. They wrote the lyrics to many of the songs—including the we-love-our-mothers tune “Sweet Lady” and the look-out-gold-diggers number “Money”—but the melodies and arrangements, basically a hybrid of classic Motown and Philly International, were essentially foisted on them. Thankfully the material is uniformly strong, and Walker and Wray have charisma to spare. —Peter Margasak Lee Fields & the Expressions headline.


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