Laura Izibor

Let the Truth Be Told

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Heralded as a prodigious talent in her teens, Laura Izibor has spent the better part of the past four years being groomed for success. The official line is that it's been time well spent perfecting her long-awaited debut statement to the world, but, given that much of the music herein has been floating around in some capacity for the better part of two years, the delay seems to result from uncertainty over how to market her: as a classic soul singer in the Aretha Franklin vein, or a contemporary R&B hitmaker in the Alicia Keys mold. In truth, the conflict is never really resolved, and it leaves somewhat of a sour taste in the mouth, for Let the Truth Be Told could have been much, much more. It starts brightly, literally, with the ebullient opener, "Shine," an uplifting horn-infused number with a soaring and infectious chorus, the kind they're not supposed to make anymore. And she's equally adept at more introspective tones -- in truth, she's in her element. Izibor's songwriting prowess comes to bear on tracks like "Mmm...," which she has the confidence to arm with nothing more than a hummed chorus, and the vulnerable/confrontational "Don't Stay," during which she boasts: "Don't stay, if you don't wanna stay/Baby I'll be OK/Believe me when I say, 'I'm gonna be alright.'" This ability to change roles and switch styles is Let the Truth Be Told's most endearing feature, but it's not without its drawbacks. The comparisons with Keys are by no means unjustified: both combine vocal dexterity with instrumental (piano, in both cases) prowess, but while Keys' mix of soul and hip-hop is well studied and refined, Let the Truth Be Told often feels like an attempt to shoehorn her way into a genre she's not quite prepared for. Witness the irritating glitch vocal samples that litter the otherwise impressive "From My Heart to Yours," or the clumsy, overly simplistic beats that pepper the likes of "I Don't Want You Back" and "Perfect World." These are not chronic problems, but they do take the shine off an otherwise solid debut for a promising young singer.

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