Jazzmeia Horn is a supremely gifted jazz singer with a bright, resonant voice that she applies ably to soulful standards and vocalese numbers alike. It's a style that helped her win the 2015 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Jazz Competition, and which earned her a Grammy nomination for her 2017 debut, A Social Call. It's also a style that she further showcases to fine effect on her earthy sophomore album, 2019's Love & Liberation. Once again joining her are longtime associates pianist Victor Gould, bassist Ben Williams, drummer/vocalist Jamison Ross, saxophonist Stacy Dillard, and trumpeter Josh Evans. All of these musicians are virtuosos in their own right, and bring a richly ebullient improvisational energy to Horn's album. Opening with the buoyant, Betty Carter-esque "Free Your Mind," Love & Liberation has an organic quality that brings to mind the kind of jazz albums that emerged in the 1970s when artists were accenting their hard-swinging post-bop with soul and R&B influences. Reinforcing this aesthetic are Horn's cover choices including the bluesy Hubert Laws and Jon Hendricks song "No More" as well as her sensuously atmospheric reworking of Erykah Badu's "Green Eyes." Equally compelling is Horn's sultry duet with Ross on the George Duke and Rachelle Ferrell ballad "Reflections of My Heart." Horn also brings a distinctly empowered female perspective to Love & Liberation, drawing playfully upon her experience raising two daughters on "When I Say," and turning the male gaze on its head with the unrequited ballad "Legs and Arms." Elsewhere, Horn displays her knack for crafting highly memorable originals as on the bright swinger "Out the Window" and the equally propulsive "Searchin'," which spotlights her dynamic vocalese improvisational skills. Similarly, she dives into the cheeky blues of "Still Tryin'" and continues to prove her straight-ahead jazz chops with an urbane reading of the standard "I Thought About You."
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar